ago, Ben Ware, then chairman of the Universitys chemistry
department, worked hard to recruit a famous organic chemist who
was interested in coming to Syracuse. When they met on campus for
two days of conversations and seminars, Ware felt certain there
was a mutual interest and was hopeful about the potential for a
relationship between SU and this academic star. As they were wrapping
up their discussions, Ware said, Now Id like to talk
to you about your teaching. The illustrious scientist replied:
Ill be perfectly honest with youI dont like
to teach. Ill do a decent job, but my real effort goes into
my research. At that point, Ware stood, shook the chemists
hand, and said good-bye. Syracuse University wasnt the
place for him, Ware says. He wouldnt be happy
here, because we dont share that philosophy.
Today, as the
Universitys vice president for research and computing, Ware
remains steadfast in his commitment to SUs vision of being
the nations leading student-centered research university.
At a research university, the professors who teach are also
active scholars, says Ware, who is responsible for the development
of research and research funding and the administration of grants
processing. At a traditional teaching college, the professors have
learned the material and their interest is only in teaching. They
teach full time and focus only on instruction; but they are not
actively involved in their professions. Theres a different
kind of education that comes from interacting with an active scholar,
Ware says. Youre learning from somebody whos advancing
the field at the same time that he or she is teaching. We believe
in that model.
A. Shaw affirms that Syracuse Universitys missionto
promote learningis manifest in research. Faculty members
are actively involved in scholarly activity, research, and creative
activity, he says. A special character of research at
Syracuse is that we select and design research programs that support
and sustain our educational mission, a central feature of the student-centered
There are many
universities that hire faculty with the potential of becoming famous
researchersregardless of their commitment to teaching. But
not at Syracuse. We share this vision of being dedicated to
both the instruction of students and the active research and scholarly
activity of our respective disciplines, says College of Arts
and Sciences Dean Cathryn R. Newton, herself a scientist and Earth
sciences professor whose research interests include marine mass
extinction and environmental change. Our faculty are outstanding
teachers and prominent scholars who bring intellectual verve and
energy to teaching. They are engaged in scholarly activity at a
level that is important, relevant, and recognized by the national
community. We celebrate that.
Many factors contribute to the overall degree of excellence achieved
by an institution of higher learning, including the quality of the
faculty, students, and facilities, and the level of available resources.
While each of these factors relies on and contributes to the strengths
of the others, all of them are substantially enhanced through a
commitment to research. We want to possess, in the areas in
which we concentrate, state-of-the-art facilities and a critical
mass of scholars who can work together in teamspeople who
are recognized nationally as leaders in their disciplines,
says Gina Lee-Glauser, executive director of the Office of Sponsored
Programs (OSP), which oversees the administration of funded projects
(see related story at bottom of page).
a major role in fulfilling the goals outlined in the Universitys
Academic Plan. The Academic Plan is fundamentally about moving
the University forward through strategic, multidisciplinary research
partnerships to leverage the expertise of our very best faculty
and programs, says Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A.
Freund. Its initiatives are aimed at securing the foundation
of SUs student-centered research mission and establishing
signature experiences that will distinguish a Syracuse education.
opportunities for the University to increase its resources by raising
money from external sponsors, research helps build and enhance intellectual
capitals, Lee-Glauser says. This shows itself in many ways,
including contributing to scholarly publications, supporting facility
development, providing research experiences to graduate and undergraduate
students, and hiring professional experts, she says. Research
enables SU to partner with area and national businesses and contribute
to the local community. Research and scholarship also increase the
Universitys interaction with other quality universities across
the country and around the world. It gives us an exchange
of scholars that positions SU in the international community as
a place that is recognized, a place of renown, a place that is in
the loop of the academic professions, Lee-Glauser says. Research
leads to publications that broaden our reputation. Those publications
create interest in and lend credibility to the activities going
on in the departments and with the faculty.
In a broader
sense, research contributes to the University and general society
in the same ways any form of scholarship contributes to humanitys
development. The generation of new knowledge and synthesis
of ideas have always mattered and in some ways have advanced civilization,
says Michael Wasylenko, associate dean of the Maxwell School of
Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ancient and modern intellectual
history is filled with new ideas in philosophy, mathematics, engineering,
social order, and a variety of other areas.
director of research development at OSP, also sees research as benefiting
not only those in the SU community, but all of society. As
members of a university, our role is to educate, she says.
Research is fundamentally creating new knowledge that builds
upon the foundations of previous scholars. This is a dynamic process
that stimulates further learning and contributes to the education
of those who are here, as well as to society.
Some of the
most evident benefits of academic research in recent years are reflected
in technological advances. Advanced technology is increasingly
pervasive in nearly every aspect of life, says Edward Bogucz,
dean of the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science
(ECS). Opportunities abound for further innovations that will
benefit society. Ware agrees. Clearly, we wouldnt
have computers, lasers, and other modern tools if not for academic
research, he says. Those things are a result of the
work done at universities. As an example, Ware points to the
study of quantum mechanics, which advanced in the 1920s and 30s
and came through a period of enormous intellectual activity as scientists
began to understand the energy levels of atoms and molecules. A
tremendous amount of knowledge came out of what appeared to be very
fundamental research, he says. And then someone figured
out how to turn that knowledge into what is now called the laser.
If you gathered as many scientists and engineers as you could and
said, Work together to make the brightest light you possibly
can, theyd build giant lightbulbs and reflectors; theyd
never come up with the laser. Scientists came up with the laser
because they cared about the fundamental nature of atoms and molecules,
and asked, What is matter? What are the rules that matter
has to follow? Because scientists cared about that, they were
able to develop the laser. Thats the power of research.
While the universal purpose of researchto generate new knowledgeremains
fairly constant regardless of its form, methodologies vary greatly
among disciplines. Syracuse is an especially interesting place to
examine research and scholarship, Ware says, because the University
possesses a strong core of arts and sciences disciplines that do
traditional kinds of work in the sciences, social sciences, and
humanities, as well as professional schools where scholarly activities
are extremely varied. The word research applies
to much more than the traditional understanding of the term,
Ware says. As a chemist, he is most familiar with the kind of scientific
research that involves working in a laboratory, achieving a result,
and sharing that information by publishing it. But there are
many other forms of research and activities that the word research
doesnt really describe, but that are the effective equivalents
of research around the campus, he says.
In many of the
professional school fields, theoretical research isnt of much
value unless its related to a real-world environment. Faculty
move the field forward by actually affecting the work of practicing
professionals, Ware says. In the more fundamental arts
and sciences disciplines, the real productthe real valueis
an intellectual one. The application comes later.
At the Universitys
professional schools, scholarship sometimes takes the traditional
form of pure research, in which faculty do studies and publish scholarly
papers. However, research at these colleges more often consists
of some kind of professional involvement, where faculty members
participate in the real-world activities of such fields as education,
law, management, social work, or any number of other disciplines.
At ECS, for example, research looks much like it does in the
basic sciences, Ware says. But it is more applied, and
is often conducted in partnership with companies. At the Newhouse
School, faculty are out there talking and working in the field with
people who are advancing Internet activities for journalism, publishing
magazines, or producing TV programs. Thats important, because
it keeps faculty current and engaged in their disciplines. They
arent satisfied with saying, Well, I learned this material
some time ago and now I repeat it to students. They are actively
doing the work of their professions.
involvement is also valued as an important form of research at the
School of Information Studies, where exploration is cited as one
of six core values. As a leadership school in our field, we
place a high priority on research that underlines professional practices,
says Dean Raymond von Dran, whose schools faculty research
output is among the Universitys highest. In addition, the
school encourages research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate
students. Our facultys research always involves students,
giving them the experience to be leading information professionals,
von Dran says. The School of Information Studies has established
several research and development centers, including three interdisciplinary
centers that are administered in collaboration with other SU colleges.
Ware also points
to the training of professionals as a significant form of research.
Thats something SU does extremely well, he says.
Youre not going to have architects without an architecture
program, or lawyers without a law school. The impact we have there
is on both the advancement of the discipline and the development
of people who know how to do this activity in the real worldwho
have not just read the books, but have been engaged with the scholarly
activity of the faculty members who are in those respective disciplines.
At the Maxwell
School, research often focuses on the areas of social policy and
the implications for society of an aging population, says Wasylenko.
The Government Performance Project, administered by the Alan K.
Campbell Public Affairs Institute, evaluates the effectiveness of
management systems and examines the role of leadership in local,
state, and selected federal government entitiesresearch that
Wasylenko describes as an enduring and important theme
for the school. People in the Maxwell School are not only
involved in doing research in their disciplines, Ware adds.
They also sit on government committees that are actively involved
in the public affairs of the nation, and they have an impact on
what goes on. The same thing is true of scholars all across campus.
represents another less traditional mode of research that occurs
at SU. Its important to recognize creative activity
as a hallmark of what we do, Ware says. All of our artists
create. They dont just teach other people how to create. Our
music faculty members give recitals in addition to instruction.
Our drama faculty members perform as well as teach. Creative activity
is their equivalent of research. Ware also points to the contributions
of the people who study and teach in the Universitys Creative
Writing Program. The understanding they have for how to craft
the languageand how to appreciate other peoples crafting
of the languageis amazing. We have a group of scholars who
advance the skills of their students in ways that wouldnt
be possible unless they excelled at this kind of activity themselves.
500 research projects are currently supported by external sponsors
at Syracuse University, with the federal government being the largest
source of funding, followed by private foundations, corporate sponsorship,
and state funding. The Office of Sponsored Programs assists faculty
in obtaining external funding for research activities in many ways.
It provides information about the availability and interests of
potential sponsors, helps recognize a potential match between a
sponsors needs and a faculty members research goals,
and assists faculty with developing and submitting effective grant
The office also
identifies and encourages new opportunities for interdisciplinary
research and educational activitiesan important initiative
of the Universitys Academic Plan. Because we work with
faculty from all disciplines, we are in a unique position to recognize
the potential for interdisciplinary connections, says Lee-Glauser.
We bring together faculty members who otherwise might have
no idea of each others research activities, because we think
they may benefit from knowing each other and, possibly, working
in response to a National Science Foundation initiative, OSP brought
together two School of Information Studies faculty members to collaborate
on a multi-university, interdisciplinary e-government project. In
terms of collaboration, Lowney says, what we find today
across the spectrum of disciplines is that the easy stuff
has already been discovered. What must happen next begins with a
cross-fertilization of disciplines, of having people who are able
to translate the language of their own fields, to communicate and
advance understanding of issues that are really between the boundaries
of disciplines. Thats something the University is trying to
and developing relationships doesnt happen overnight. As with
any partnership, it takes time for co-researchers to make connections
and establish trust. There may not be any collaboration potential
at the moment, Lee-Glauser says. But maybe two or three
years down the road someone will remember, Oh, I met that
person way back when, and now I see a need for the skills she presented.
Were planting seeds to facilitate that process.
Syracuses vision is a blending of the focus on instruction
and student learning and a continued commitment to research. A
student-centered research university brings new ideas to students
and encourages them to think for themselves, says Wasylenko.
Transferring an existing body of knowledge to students is
only one aspect of a good education. Pushing at the boundaries and
working on new ideas must be part of learning. Research skills are
important to developing young and not-so-young minds.
from engagement with active scholars in a variety of ways. Faculty
talk to students about the tools of their trades, tools they are
actively using. And thats a very vibrant kind of instruction,
Ware says. In addition, students at all levels can actively participate
in research at SU (see related
story). In the sciences, for example, most of our majors
become associated with one of the research labs, and actually do
research, Ware says. Some even publish papers as a result
of their scholarly work. They learn to be productive scholars, even
focus on research at the expense of teaching, perhaps because a
universitys reputation in academic circles is largely determined
by scholarship and research. But thats not the case at Syracuse.
The fact that our college is nationally recognized for excellence
in both teaching and research makes Syracuse an ideal place to study
engineering or computer science, says Bogucz. We are
pioneers of the student-centered research university, where students
are the top priority in a vital and active environment of discovery
Whether or not
students are directly involved with faculty research, Wasylenko
says, they benefit by having faculty introduce them to new areas
of thinking, which encourages them to develop their ideas. Knowledge
is not static and new ideas constantly arise and need to be integrated
into their lives and their work, he says. Learning that
the world is changingthat what you think you know for sure
today may evolve into a new ideais a critical point to address
in an undergraduate education.
Just as research
work makes SU faculty members better teachers, their work as teachers
can contribute to their success as researchers. In the process of
struggling to achieve the higher level of understanding that faculty
are working to instill in them, students ask questions that a faculty
member is not likely to otherwise consider. Sometimes those
questions are pregnant with ideas that can advance research or scholarly
thinking, Ware says. You go back over those fundamental
issues and think, You know, Im worried about the third
decimal point on this thing, and yet theres a fundamental
part of it that I dont understandthat nobody understands.
Students help you work through that, and when that happens, the
ability to bring your research into the classroom is really powerful.
When he lectures,
Ware often notices that students seem more interested in what he
says when he shares his own enthusiasm about his work. Ill
come to a concept and say, This is the subject of my research.
This is what I do. When you explain your own engagement with
that issue, students perk up; they get really motivated. You can
almost hear them thinking, Wow! This is something so important
that this guy spends his life trying to figure it out. Or
you can tell them about Professor X who is working on a specific
research project right now: Heres what shes doing
to advance the understanding of this field...and we think shes
just about to break through on this concept. That really inspires
students. It gives them the feeling they are in a special place,
a feeling of involvement that is only possible in places where there
is creative research.
best way to sum up the significance of research at Syracuse University
is to think of it as a way of sharing passiona quality that
Lowney sees as critical to a successful researcher. So much
research is made up of a lot of stuff you just have to plow through,
she says. You have to crunch it down, like the pieces of a
puzzle, until you see how the pieces fit together. Then you have
to interpret the pieces to find the picture, putting it all in context
with unknown pieces that might still be missing. The truth is there
can be drudgery in research, and if you dont have that passion,
if you dont have that drive and commitment to your discipline,
you might give up before that wonderful ah-ha! moment.
Ware puts it
this way: If you are passionate about your discipline, you
will want to be engaged in it. You wont be content just to
read what other people are doing. Thats something we see and
encourage at all levels at Syracuse: a passionate enthusiasm for
learningand for doing.