March 29, 2016
Letter from the interim vice president for research
This week marks two key events in history: My first 90 days as the interim vice president for research and the 331st birthday of one of the greatest composers of music in history, Johann Sebastian Bach. During these first 90 days, a number of remarkable things happened on my watch, and to quote Bach, "there's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself."
With that disclosure, it was announced on Feb. 1 that K-State received recognition by the Carnegie Foundation as an R1 Doctoral University: Highest research activity. This was the result of a remarkable campus effort to grow our research, scholarship, creative activities and discovery at K-State. Our faculty, staff and students are to be commended for this accomplishment, which is an important step toward our K-State 2025 goals.
It's also been quite a whirlwind of a spring semester.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of serving as interim vice president for research has been learning more about K-State RSCAD. I have had occasion to meet with many of you and visit most of our campuses and colleges in the last three months, so I've seen firsthand the outstanding work our dedicated people are doing. PreAward Services reports that researchers are more than keeping pace with last year's record number of proposals: compared with this point last year, the amount requested is up by more than $13 million. We know more great results are on the way.
Speaking of great results, I wanted to take time to share some of the accomplishments the Office of the Vice President for Research has achieved during the first part of the calendar year.
- I had a "Mr. Smith" moment when I visited our federal delegation members and staff with President Schulz and other campus leaders to discuss prospects for NBAF, explore partnerships with several key stakeholders, and build rapport with the undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Excitement continues to build in Washington for the critical national laboratory under construction here, and we need only look at the cranes at work over the NBAF site to remind us that we have bright opportunities ahead.
- Our office organized events that bookended spring break. The first was a campuswide networking event for faculty and staff interested in developing teams to respond to a USDA-NIFA program on childhood obesity prevention. Five interdisciplinary teams of researchers self-assembled around emerging areas of need, and many new faculty collaborations were spawned. We also sponsored the visit of a program officer from the National Endowment for the Humanities who led a workshop on proposal writing for more than 40 faculty and graduate students from K-State and other regional institutions. Many attendees had one-on-one or small group appointments with the NEH official to get specific feedback on possible proposals.
- At the other end of the break, the Office of Corporate Engagement, together with our office, KSU-IC, and KSURF, held the second annual Research Showcase focused on university-industry partnerships. About 50 corporate representatives registered for the event, and more than 70 faculty, staff and student "vendors" showcased their talents and research expertise. Potential corporate partners also had the opportunity to visit the KSU Foundation building and mingle with faculty and staff at a reception following the showcase. Thanks to all who attended or exhibited at the showcase. The event was abuzz with energy and conversation, and I look forward to hearing of the new collaborations that will result.
Finally, I want to mention an event that the Office of the Vice President for Research wasn't involved in, but that enriched the life of our campus and community. The Shakespeare in the Little Apple group organized a series of events during the First Folio's Kansas stop at our own Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art. Anyone who knows me knows I find many occasions to quote Shakespeare, so I appreciated the range of workshops, performances and educational opportunities the planning group provided in February. Having the First Folio on campus was an honor, and K-State and Manhattan served The Bard well! Thanks to all who had a hand in the extensive planning the Folio's stay required.
To paraphrase Polonius — from Hamlet — I hope I've been brief. So much more RSCAD is going on across campus, and I plan to continue to not only experience it, but also facilitate it. This role is not about just knowing which notes to play, but enabling the instrument to play in all its glory.
Peter K. Dorhout