MODERATOR WRAP-UP AND SYNTHESIS
~ John Zysman
I'm going to take five minutes and try to make a few remarks and a few suggestions about where we might go next. As I do it, I think it's worth our recognizing that this really has been quite a remarkable meeting. It's been remarkable both because it's actually been interesting, whereas most such meetings are not, and because it reflects not only a shift in view, but a consensus about the maintenance of the core values of the University at the same time that the University has to adjust and reposition itself in a changing national and global economy. And particularly, I must say coming from outside of the sciences, I am relieved and delighted that both teaching and dissemination of basic research remain in our understanding of what the University is really about, but that industry involvement has its own benefits to the University; has its own benefits to people who, in fact, are engaged in research.
A couple of comments that came out that I think are worth emphasizing. One is that the involvement with industry is not going to be a replacement for money that's lost in other sources. It can't be -- that's not its purpose. That's not what it's ultimately about. And we cannot, should not think about it in that kind of way. But the marginal money that comes from industry, it seems to me, is of much more than marginal significance. In the end, the marginal money will ultimately affect the core arrangements of the University. These issues of how do faculty, a few faculty, spend their time can profoundly influence the texture and norms throughout the University, and therefore this marginal money that's coming in, even though it doesn't profoundly affect the finances of the University, can profoundly affect the texture and character of the relationships in the University, if it's not effectively dealt with. This discussion, it seems to me, is ultimately not about money but about the core character of the University. And I think that we should be delighted at the particular consensus amongst people of very different views and values that we've reached.
I think there are five or six different kinds of suggestions that have been floating around as the next steps, and I want to just name them. I think it's probably worth doing. The most obvious is a report will come out of this meeting, or several reports in several different forms, in which the President's staff will obviously synthesize the issues and principles that are being articulated here and suggest how they bear on the formal rules that the University actually has and the way in which they may suggest a reconsideration or re-articulation, reformulation of what those rules actually are.
Secondly, it was suggested, and I think we all agreed, that an analysis of the best and worst experiences is probably a very useful thing to do. What was a catastrophe? Were there commonalities across these catastrophes that we can identify? Are there things that are common to the successes that can be found? Probably they're some, probably some are sui generis, but in fact the exercise will probably be enlightening. And I think that probably is worth doing.
The third is probably that an analysis of a variety of different models, not of technology transfer but of the relation between research and industrial realization in different disciplines and different industries, needs to be undertaken. I think we need to articulate that. Jud King was beginning to suggest, by introducing chemicals, there was more than just the life sciences and the electronics industry; there's a range of such different experiences. And I think the more conscious we are that there are several different appropriate ways of doing this, we may be able to self-regulate those relationships more effectively. And equally, I think we have to understand that business needs change and business dynamics change. Consequently, we should be doing that analysis, not only from the disciplinary side, but from the logic of the way in which business in different industries is changing. Jim McGroddy, yesterday, was suggesting the changes that are beginning to take place in the electronics industry, the dynamics of the electronics and the kinds of firms that are driving technology. The role, I would say, of standards, de facto market standards, proprietary position within de facto market standards, alters in the electronics industry the character and meaning of technology. We need to do that as a third issue.
The fourth is, we should probably find a mechanism to facilitate proposals that would work. People have an idea of how a program might be put together that could be forwarded to a forum for discussion and evaluation of the way it would interact with these other issues in the University so that, again, it's not done after the fact--so that one doesn't run into this issue of having to say no because one's built the conversation in at the beginning.
The last two issues, I think, are how to project these conversations outward. I think that one of the things the President's office can do, and I think it's going to do, is create from these materials a package of materials for debate on the campuses and discussion in the several departments. That would be enormously valuable. It's almost impossible for the department chair to pull this kind of material together to hold that kind of conversation. But if the materials are available, both in the engineering departments and the science departments and elsewhere, that's probably something that could be done. We might want to find a few Deans. On my campus I've already talked to Paul Gray. We have UC San Diego right here and so I'll speak for Bob Conn, because I'm sure he'd be willing to do that as a way of starting to begin this larger conversation. I think it needs to be done by discipline and by department.
And lastly, I think this issue of appropriate advisory groups, not just as a way of staying out of trouble, but as a way of helping us avoid the decisions that are inappropriate so that we can make the decisions that are appropriate, becomes a last step.
So, I think there are a number of things that we can carry forward. I think this really has been an enormously successful meeting and we should thank the people who put this together for actually having advanced -- taken a serious problem by the horns, as it were, and really advanced the discussion. And so I thank you all.
Return to Main Page
Return to Retreat Conclusions