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Mark Aldenderfer of UC-Merced Gives Presentation for ORED Vice Chancellor Position

03/15/2012 10:47 AM

BATON ROUGE – On March 12, Mark Aldenderfer, dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California, Merced, presented at an open forum as part of the interview process for the position of vice chancellor in the Office of Research & Economic Development, or ORED. He is the second of three candidates to interview for the role.

Aldenderfer started off by discussing his views about the concept of a university. As visitors filed into the auditorium, they were greeted by the words “Universitas Magistrorum et scholarium,” which essentially translates into “a community of scholars and students.”

“I cannot imagine a world without universities,” he said, explaining that the current transitional state of the university institution now has more responsibilities than it traditionally faced, including outreach, economic development and more, in addition to fostering a healthy community of scholars and students.

To meet these demands, he said, a university must be flexible. Research and teaching both address these needs while fulfilling its more traditional demands.

Aldenderfer then went to explain his philosophy of research, stating that he believes research must be interdisciplinary, which he views as the cornerstone for growth. It should also be international, meaning that it should be aware and informed of other bodies of knowledge outside our geographical boundaries, in order to be fully successful.

He also believes that research is meant to be shared – through outreach, with colleagues, with people who can use the results to build additional research and of course, with students.

“Good teaching is the result of good research,” he said. “If it informs you as a researcher, it should filter into the classroom.”

Aldenderfer also explained that the potential for economic development through knowledge transfer and commercialization is important, but it also shouldn’t drive a university’s research agenda, either.

His philosophy of research management is strategic. He discussed the idea that in modern-day budget considerations, a university has to decide what it wants to be.

“You can’t just say one size fits all anymore,” he explained. “You have to ask, what does this university want to be in 10 years?”

He also views research management as having a need to be collaborative while leveraging existing strengths and available resources, and also enabling university researchers to do their jobs well through the ability to receive grants, write books and conduct research. He impressed upon the audience his belief that all research should be ethical, stating that everything researchers do has to tie back to strong research ethics.

Aldenderfer summed up his philosophy of management as follows:

• Hire good people;
• Trust, but verify;
• Listen, then decide on a course of action.

“A good leader has to decide when it’s time to start doing things,” he said.

As proof of his belief in the aforementioned philosophies, Aldenderfer offered up several examples of his own research projects, all of which embodied the spirit of interdisciplinary and international research while also employing his ideas about research and research management.

In closing, he reminded the audience that, while research and research administration is serious work, it should also be enjoyable.

“Research should be fun,” he said. “It’s hard work and heavy lifting, but it should also always be fun.”

LSU officials are in the process of conducting a search for the position of vice chancellor for research and economic development. Candidates will participate in a series of interviews with university staff and students, and will also participate in a campus-wide open forum. The presentations will be followed by open question-and-answer sessions led by the candidates.

The remaining candidate is Morris Foster (vita available at, associate vice chancellor for research and strategic planning at the University of Oklahoma at Norman with an open forum being held March 15 at 4 p.m. in Lockett 2.

After the interviews are completed, the search committee will then send its recommendations to LSU Chancellor Michael Martin and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost John M. Hamilton, who will then select the next vice chancellor.

All faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend the presentations. Those attending are encouraged to submit an anonymous evaluation form at

For more information regarding the search, including position description, search committee members and candidates’ vitae, please visit

LSU Research Communications