Big Idea #6: Creating a Collaborative Research Center

The sixth of President Christopher Dahl's Big Ideas, "Creating a center for collaborative research," aims to mend the college's budget while enriching opportunities for creative and groundbreaking sponsored research across campus.

However, according to co-chair Stephen Padalino, a distinguished professor of physics, the task force is currently "not making any specific recommendations about whether creating a center for collaborative research would be advantageous."

Instead, the task force concentrated on ways to improve the research culture at Geneseo in order to increase the amount of research performed and, subsequently, the funding received.

"I think what we need … at the provost and presidential level is a real indication that this is important and we need to get faculty doing this," Padalino said. "We also need it at a departmental level. We need chairs and deans supporting this. Until that happens, people are just too busy to make it happen on their own."

The task force recommended in their August report that the college aim to obtain $100,000 of internal funds to support release time for faculty to write proposals. These funds could then be used to allow faculty to perform research, award faculty who have submitted "large proposals," conduct proposal seminars and even attend training sessions or conferences. The task force also recommends that proposal submissions be considered when deciding promotions and tenure.

Among other recommendations, the task force suggested that students participating in summer research at Geneseo be offered free on-campus housing and meal plans.

"If we're going to have a center and want to be able to do research, then we need to have a support for that," Padalino said. "We took this on as a mission to determine ways to [improve] writing proposals, writing better and more proposals so we could bring in more funding. Our concern was that the culture at the college did not change in direction of better support of writing support then all of the other things couldn't follow. Without funding, it's very difficult in the current climate to expect faculty to take on more in terms of doing research."

The task force surveyed several liberal arts colleges across the United States to evaluate and compare how each supports collaborative faculty research and used some of the gathered ideas as a basis for their own suggestions. Geneseo's Office of Sponsored Research has also assisted in identifying potential funding sources for these efforts.

A series of deliberative dialogues on all six of the Big Ideas will be held on Nov. 17, 18, and 20.