Former Vice Chancellor of Research and Graduate Studies Gives Presentation for ORED Position
BATON ROUGE – Kevin Smith, the LSU Foundation James C. Bolton Distinguished Professor, and professor of chemistry at LSU, was the third of five candidates to give a presentation as part of the interview process to find LSU’s next vice chancellor in the Office of Research and Economic Development, or ORED.
In his presentation, Smith leaned heavily on his previous experience. He served as LSU’s vice chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies from 2001-04, the position which eventually morphed into ORED, in addition to serving as dean of the LSU Graduate School. He had also previously served as vice chancellor of research and professor of chemistry at the University of California-Davis from 1997-2001.
“The advertisement states that it seeks a candidate that has ‘demonstrated an ability to build a nationally and internationally competitive research program,’” said Smith. “I feel like I’ve proven I can do that, both here and at California-Davis.”
From 2001-04, Smith says that external funding for research at LSU increased 45 percent under his watch as vice chancellor of Research and Graduate Studies, and that it increased 76 percent during his tenure at UC-Davis. He’s also taught 108 total graduate students in his career, including 49 at the post-doctoral level.
“I don’t think my vision is any different from any other candidate,” Smith explained. “The most important thing is that a vice chancellor be a facilitator for research.”
Smith stressed that the keys for a research leader are to help faculty pursue funding opportunities “relentlessly,” noting that interdisciplinary research is currently what draws the attention of national foundations and other organizations funding research. He also spoke of assisting faculty in proposal writing, finding matching funds, encouraging start-up companies and advancing intellectual property, as well as getting to know both state legislators and the Louisiana congressional delegation.
“It is important that I serve as an intermediary for you,” Smith said to the audience of faculty members.
He explained that, to him, the ORED vice chancellor is the “vice chancellor of the faculty,” while outlining rules he believed in working by, such as:
- Do not do anything to make it more difficult for faculty to do research;
- Actively initiate faculty submission of grant proposals;
- Help faculty do everything possible to increase research portfolios; and
- Use excess funds to further the mission of the university as a whole.
“If I can bring in some extra money, I want to be able to spend it,” Smith explained.
He also noted that faculty is a university’s “intellectual capital,” and must be protected, while the graduate school must be seen as a university’s “research engine,” and properly supported.
Smith added that he views a vice chancellors role as important, but invisible.
“I need to be there to help, but otherwise, stay out of the way,” he said.
Overall, Smith believes his experience to be his biggest asset.
“I’d be surprised if I got hit with anything I haven’t seen before,” he said. “And I hate loose ends. I want to finish what I feel like I started when I arrived here in 2001.”
Smith received his bachelor, master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool prior to arriving at UC-Davis. He has some 730 research publications, including 47 edited books. He’s won national and international awards, including the Coday-Morgan Medal and Prize of Chemical Society in London in 1976, the Robert B. Woodward International Career Award in Rome in 2008; and was named as senior fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in Kyoto, Japan in 1992; and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009.
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 forum to present their thoughts on the future of research and economic development at LSU. The presentations will be followed by open question-and-answer sessions led by the candidates.
K.T. Valasaraj, LSU’s associate vice chancellor for Research & Economic Development, presented at an open forum on Thursday, March 14. For more information about his presentation, visit http://www.lsu.edu/ur/ocur/lsunews/MediaCenter/News/2013/03/item59127.html.
Jerry Miller, former assistant director for Ocean Service at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, gave a presentation on Monday, March 18. For more information about his presentation, visit http://www.lsu.edu/ur/ocur/lsunews/MediaCenter/News/2013/03/item59188.html.
The remaining candidates include David Conover, director for the Division of Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation, and Chitra Rajan, associate vice president for research at Iowa State University.
The vice chancellor for research & economic development serves as the chief research officer for the university, reporting to the executive vice chancellor & provost. This individual will take a leadership role in national and international activities regarding research policy and will guide LSU in defining, prioritizing, and energizing emerging research opportunities. The target start date for this position is July 1, 2013.
All faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend the candidate presentations.
For more information regarding the search, including position description, search committee members and candidates’ vitae, please visit http://www.lsu.edu/faculty_staff/vcsearch/.
For more information about the candidates, please visit http://www.lsu.edu/faculty_staff/vcsearch/candidates.shtml.