Summer 2001 Journal: How Campus Research Programs Spark Innovation and Serve Communities

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Summer 2001
For more information, contact:
John O. Harney, Executive Editor, Connection

Connection Magazine Explores How Campus Research Programs Spark Innovation and Serve Communities

BOSTON – Six New England colleges and universities more than doubled their research and development (R&D) expenditures during the 1990s, according to data in the Summer 2001 issue of CONNECTION: NEW ENGLAND’S JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

At Tufts University, R&D expenditures grew by 116 percent to almost $102 million, according to Connection. At the University of New Hampshire, R&D expenditures grew by 122 percent to nearly $58 million. Research expenditures also more than doubled at Northeastern University, Boston College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Wellesley College.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology continued to lead the region in total R&D expenditures with $420 million in 1999.

The Summer 2001 issue of Connection also explores commercial issues surrounding academic research-from patents to business incubation-as well as some innovative campus programs that encourage students to apply their research for the good of the local community.

Connection is the quarterly journal of the nonprofit New England Board of Higher Education (nebhe)-and America’s only regional journal of higher education and the economy.

Following is a summary of articles in the new issue of Connection:

Knowledge Applied Connection reports on a decade of R&D growth at New England’s 25 leading academic research institutions, including breakdowns of R&D expenditures by field, and patents received. Some of the big players may surprise you.

Selling Knowledge? R&D Soothsayers and High Priests of Venture Capital Are in the Temple of the Academy Boston University offers faculty cash for licensable ideas. Smith College invests $750,000 in a venture capital company that supports early-stage e-commerce firms. Marlboro College lures Internet startups to its spanking new technology center in Brattleboro, Vt. High-tech writer Alan Robert Earls looks at the increasing commercialization of university research from licensing to business incubation.

Combining Research, Outreach and Student Learning Undergraduate students in the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Fellows Program spend much of their time learning from hands-on research while helping Rhode Island communities solve local problems. URI Director of Student Programs and Outreach Deborah Grossman-Garber and natural resource science professors Arthur Gold and Thomas Husband describe Rhode Island’s new model for melding research and service.

Research for the Community When a fire breaks out in the twin cities of Lewiston and Auburn, Maine, the firefighter response time is a bit quicker these days, thanks to a Geographical Information System developed by Bates College geology student Peter Beeson. That’s just one of the stories of Bates students learning as they work magic for Lewiston and Auburn. As Bates President Donald W. Harward observes: “Bates is able to enhance hands-on learning while addressing community needs.”

The End of Economic Exuberance In a special New England Economic Project report for Connection, University of New Hampshire economist Ross Gittell explains the numbers behind the New England economy’s not-so-soft landing. Gittell says a deep recession is unlikely. But total employment growth in New England will likely average just above 1 percent per year from 2000 to 2005-well below the region’s growth rate over the previous five years and below the expected U.S. average, but above the negative growth New England experienced as it emerged from the recession of the early 1990s.

New Fabric Bristol Community College President John J. Sbrega explains how Bristol is spinning new partnerships in Southeastern Massachusetts. Among other things, Sbrega calls on colleges and state education officials to guarantee scholarships and jobs to high school students who go on to earn bachelor’s degrees and agree to teach in selected slots.

Scholarship City The mills of Fall River, Mass., once supplied the world with textiles. Connection Executive Editor John O. Harney explains why the city’s next big export product may be creative ways to put students on a path toward college.

Calling Minority Teachers The number of minority students is growing rapidly in many New England cities, but the region is not preparing and hiring minority teachers fast enough to keep pace. Brown University Professor Eleanor M. McMahon explains how a national initiative aims to bridge the gap.

A Matter of Degrees As the number of associate degrees conferred by U.S. colleges grew by 10 percent between 1993 and 1998, the number granted by New England colleges shrank by 10 percent. The number of bachelor’s degrees granted by New England institutions also declined over the five years, while the number of graduate degrees grew. Connection features the latest state and regional data on degrees earned.

Local Color Antrim, N.H., elementary school children create their own local history museum. Western Massachusetts middle school students watch a girl and her father make anadama bread from the family’s 300-year-old recipe. Michael Hoberman, coordinator of the New England Community Heritage Project, explains how local culture enhances education. “When schoolchildren explore the culture of their neighborhoods, towns and villages, they discover what firsthand learning is all about,” he writes. “They learn that we can literally touch the past instead of just looking it up in the encyclopaedia.”

The Challenge of Innovation in Higher Education Marlboro College President Paul LeBlanc and Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen call for risk-taking in academia. The authors warn: “A college’s ability to procure tuition dollars and charitable contributions dictates its overall financial success, so institutions become very good at killing ideas that their students and donors don’t like.”

Flunking on Costs When the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education released its “Report Card for Higher Education” last December, just three states nationwide-Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island-earned ‘F’s for affordability. Plymouth State College President Donald P. Wharton explains what New Hampshire can do to make higher education more affordable-and beef up its workforce.

Interstate 6: New England’s Interstate Higher Education Compact Has Stood the Test of Time Interstate compacts predate the U.S. Constitution. Yet they are often misunderstood and overlooked by policymakers. nebhe Senior Fellow Melvin H. Bernstein explains the significance and enduring history of the 1955 New England Higher Education Compact.

Book Reviews Deborah Hirsch, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education, reviews Teaching Without Tenure: Policies and Practices for a New Era. University of Southern Maine School of Social Work & Sociology Professor David Wagner reviews American Foundations: An Investigative History. Connection Executive Editor John O. Harney reviews The NewHampshire Century: Concord Monitor Profiles Of One Hundred People who Shaped It.

The New England Board of Higher Education (nebhe) is a nonprofit, congressionally authorized interstate agency whose mission is to foster cooperation and the efficient use of resources among New England’s approximately 270 colleges and universities. nebhe programs are principally focused on the relationship between New England higher education and regional economic development. nebhe operates a variety of programs for New England students, including the tuition-saving Regional Student Program, and advances regional discussion of critical issues through the quarterly journal, CONNECTION: NEW ENGLAND’S JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

To subscribe to Connection, send a check for $20 payable to the New England Board of Higher Education, 45 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111, call 617.357.9620 or visit Connection on the World Wide Web at


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