Good morning. I am excited to be here as your newly appointed associate dean for research, and member of the Art History faculty. I have the best administrative job imaginable: assisting faculty in doing great work. I look forward to building on the remarkable work that Bill Doan did over the past five years.
The portfolio of this position was reformulated as part of the search process. Graduate Studies are being shifted to Gary Kesler’s office, and administrative pieces are being dispersed in various directions. There has been a similar shift in Liberal Arts and in other colleges, including Engineering. I am working with Gary to make this a smooth transition.
The aim of these changes is to give me and my office more time to devote to promoting research and creative activity, and the opportunity to think about research at all levels in the college.
In coming weeks I will be meeting with school and department heads and visiting faculty meetings so I can learn more about the culture of research and creative activity in the college, and find out how I can best support your activities. I will also be meeting with key partners in other academic units, including Eric Silver, associate dean for research in the College of the Liberal Arts, and Mike Furlough, associate dean for research in the University Libraries.
Sponsored research in our college has increased greatly. That office is under the leadership of Brian Orland and administered by Barbara Cutler. For the last two years, we have received slightly more than $7 million in funding. That amount has doubled in the past five years. Arts and Architecture faculty are involved in significant cross-college initiatives, including Marcellus Matters: Engaging Adults in Science and Energy and the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Building.
We are taking steps to continue and hopefully accelerate this trend, despite headwinds in the form of diminishing federal money. One of our first steps is to establish a new website that will enable Research staff to better assist faculty interested in pursuing sponsored research. We don’t have a roll-out date, but you can expect to hear more in coming months.
Competition for Arts and Architecture Faculty Research Grants
Last year we received 22 proposals and 11 were fully or partially funded. $95,000 was given in awards ranging from $1,000 to $21,000, representing all schools and departments in the college.
Last year the competition was delayed until spring due to uncertainty regarding funding, but this year we are reverting to the traditional October deadline. The call for proposals will be forthcoming in early September.
This initiative came up frequently during my campus visit and is clearly of great interest beyond the confines of Arts and Architecture. As you know, it is a collaboration among Arts and Architecture, Health and Human Development, and the Social Science Research Institute. Last year Studio|Lab researchers created data-based visualizations, sonifications, and materializations, culminating in a public performance, “Playing the Archive,” in February in the newly opened Biobehavioral Health Building. You can learn more and view the performance at playingthearchive.com.
This year we hope to extend the reach of “Playing the Archive” by collaborating with Penn State humanists. We will also identify strategies for raising the profile and extending the reach of Studio|Lab so that it might have the greatest possible impact.
Faculty Research Forums
The Faculty Research Forums began several years ago and are organized by Randy Ploog. The informal lunchtime conversations will continue this year, once per semester. A session last year on “materials” has been described to me as particularly successful. We want to focus on organizing around similar kinds of problems or themes. A larger possibility might be “Digital Humanities.”
Relationship Building / Research Interest Groups
The subject of Faculty Research Forums leads to the larger issue of building relationships and creating cross-pollinations, which I see as key to the position. Those of you who attended my interview presentation in April will recall that I used the series of paintings by Joan Miro called “Constellations” to explore this issue. During my first months here, I’ll be looking for the most effective strategies and mechanisms to create intellectual communities that cut across department/school and college lines. One possibility that I’ll be exploring and talking with you about is the creation of interdisciplinary Research Interest Groups.
Please stop by when you are in or around Borland. I would be delighted to talk with you about your work, and how I can assist in helping you achieve your research aspirations. I look forward to getting to know as many of you as possible in the coming year.