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Faculty Focus Group Summary

This report summarizes the feedback that the committee received from these meetings.

What are the various types of Faculty entrepreneurship?
Faculty identified several types of ongoing activity:

  • a) consulting under external contracts (intellectual capital);
  • b) grant-driven partnerships with governmental agencies e.g. ornamental fish culture;
  • c) partnerships with private companies;
  • d) fee for service e.g. proposed aquatic veterinary lab.

Is there a tension between entrepreneurship and the educational mission of the University?
The focus groups identified several unresolved issues that complicate entrepreneurial activities by faculty:

  • a) lack of clarity regarding the ethics and legality of activities that generate profit–are Faculty barred from all profit-generating activities that may involve students or University equipment?
  • b) lack of clarity regarding the weight given to entrepreneurship (e.g. a patent application) versus traditional scholarship (e.g. a journal publication) in the evaluation of applications for tenure and promotion;
  • c) lack of a mechanism for faculty to obtain teaching-load reductions for purely entrepreneurial activities.

What are the existing incentives and disincentives for Faculty entrepreneurship?
Faculty described several untapped opportunities and several significant obstacles.

Opportunities:

  • a) cost-sharing (salary, overhead) and equipment-sharing with private companies;
  • b) numerous small foundation grants to support student research.

Obstacles:

  • a) excessive overhead on grants;
  • b) unsatisfactory return to the Department or School of overhead collected by the University;
  • c) lack of administrative support for activities that are driven by Faculty ideas, rather than by immediate funding opportunities;
  • d) lack of a dedicated office of research and entrepreneurship. Such an office would provide the following types of support:
    • i) grant-writing/editing/management and regulatory compliance;
    • ii) research/small-business incubator services;
    • iii) clearinghouse for information on government and foundation grants;
    • iv) pre-patent research and filing of pre-patent and patent applications.

Both focus groups were unanimous in their recommendation that administrative support for research and entrepreneurial activities should be separated completely from the University’s fundraising activities. The Ad hoc Committee on Faculty Entrepreneurship strongly recommends that the support and oversight of faculty grant and entrepreneurship activities be administered directly by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda Riley
Tom Sorger
Lou Swiczewicz

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