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Task Force to Bolster Research Enterprise


Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., provost of the University and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology has initiated a task force to help grow research at Fordham.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

The Office of the Provost is reaching out to faculty members and administrators for ways to help strengthen the University’s faculty research and doctoral-level programs.

The Task Force on Research Competitiveness held a series of forums in January to solicit ideas from faculty members and administrators. The task force has been asked to develop recommendations for enhancing research programs and using University resources more effectively.

The committee’s work will be guided by benchmarking criteria used by the National Research Council (NRC) in evaluating doctoral programs, according to Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., provost of the University.

The task force came about last December following Fordham’s placement in an NRC evaluation of United States-based doctoral programs. The NRC study, which drew some criticism for its complicated methodology, used 21 variables to weigh some 5,000 academic departments at more than 200 institutions.

Among variables looked at were publications per faculty, percentage of faculty with grants, average GRE scores, and percentage of graduates who found employment in academic positions. The evaluation was based on data collected in 2006.

In the last few years, however, faculty use of Fordham’s Office of Research—comprising the Office of Faculty Fellowships and Internal Grants as well as the Office of Sponsored Programs—has increased significantly. Most dramatically, during the last academic year, Fordham faculty members achieved a historic high for new awards of external fellowships and grants.

“Reaching out to a broad cross-section of faculty was a natural choice,” Freedman said of the task force’s mandate. “We have a diverse and gifted faculty: who better to help us design a strategy that moves the University forward in research? The faculty’s ideas, and their support, will be critical to any research initiatives at Fordham.”

The committee is chaired by Joel R. Reidenberg, Ph.D., the Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and professor of law, and consists of University faculty members, administrators and a graduate student. It expects to make recommendations in five areas by the end of the semester. They include:

• goals for University research programs;

• strategies for the attainment of those goals;

• metrics for the assessment of progress toward the goals;

• aligning University resources with research goals; and

• the development of new funding sources for research.

Faculty members and administrators can contact Reidenberg or Amy Tuininga, Ph.D., associate dean for strategic initiatives, partnerships and assessment of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of biology, who is serving as rapporteur for the task force.


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