Associate Vice President for Research at Iowa State University Gives Presentation for LSU ORED Vice Chancellor Position
BATON ROUGE – On April 8, Chitra Rajan, current associate vice president for research at Iowa State University, gave a presentation titled “Advancing Research and Economic Development at LSU,” as part of the interview process for the position of vice chancellor in the LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, or ORED. She is the final of five candidates to interview for the role.
In her presentation, Rajan focused on delineating her vision for research and economic development at LSU and potential strategies for implementing that vision. Rajan has worked at Iowa State University for eight years in the area of research advancement, where she has been central to science communication efforts, the growth of a bioeconomy program and survey and statistical science efforts.
With more than 17 years of experience as a senior administrator at diverse institutions, including extensive experience with administrative units and interdisciplinary research centers, Rajan said that she knows firsthand the hard work that goes into running an office of research and economic development.
In her presentation, Rajan talked about emergent challenges facing research universities, including a decline in federal funding, greater competition for sponsored funding, reductions in state support, erosion in the value of endowments and therefore in philanthropy, increases in compliance and reporting requirements and increases in initial investments required to diversify funding sources.
“I think I can provide the roadmap for success in advancing research at LSU,” Rajan said. “I have seen things that work, and I have seen things that don’t work. It is important to have sustainable plans for research. You have to make tough decisions, and you have to take some risks.”
Rajan has played leadership roles in budgeting and finances, creating sustainable budget plans for large institutions. She has helped to build large interdisciplinary research programs and infrastructure, including a successful vaccine program at the Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., where she served as assistant dean.
“Research plays a critical leading role in creating knowledge, exchange and innovation,” Rajan said. “All day I have heard stories about how LSU has responded to national disasters with research and outreach, and I am very impressed by LSU’s outstanding faculty body. However, there are strategies that LSU might not already use that could be beneficial.”
If selected to fill the position of vice chancellor for research and economic development at LSU, Rajan plans on enhancing LSU’s national and international prominence and helping LSU become known for its supportive, stimulating and collaborative research environment. She also hope to help LSU develop a plan to diversity revenue and funding sources; develop stronger internal and external relationships; and build faculty, research services and infrastructure.
“Don’t underestimate how important it is to build your professional staff,” Rajan said. “You have to build the base. Your pyramid can only be as big as your base is wide and deep. I think you have to work very hard to improve the reputation of your program so that you can attract excellent students and faculty.”
Rajan suggested hiring faculty in strategic areas and assisting departments and faculty attract excellent graduate students. At Iowa State University, Rajan has also had success in expanding strategic investments in a few critical areas and engagement with industry.
“The office should invest in the infrastructure necessary for research and economic development,” Rajan said. “You have to build on your strengths, but you also need to broaden and deepen key research areas.”
Rajan plans on helping LSU invest in technical staff and sustainable central research facilities, anticipate emergent research themes and new sources of funding, as well as work with faculty and graduate students to help them write grant proposals and manage grant funds. She suggests making faculty aware of commercialization opportunities and providing recognition for faculty that engage in translational research and knowledge transfer.
“I think we should reexamine how LSU has interacted with industry,” Rajan said. “We should develop a corporate relations team, with support from the top.”
She believes she can provide a roadmap for improvement and success in advancing research at LSU.
“I am very impressed with your resilience and the quality of your faculty,” Rajan said. “I think that there are still a lot of untapped resources at LSU. I think you should communicate and brand more than you do. Celebrate your successes, and encourage your faculty to have greater media presence.”
LSU officials are in the process of conducting a search for the position of vice chancellor for research and economic development. The Vice Chancellor for Research & Economic Development serves as the Chief Research Officer for the university, reporting to the Executive Vice Chancellor and 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.
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, please visit 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, please visit www.lsu.edu/ur/ocur/lsunews/MediaCenter/News/2013/03/item59188.html.
Kevin Smith, LSU Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, presented at an open forum on Wednesday, March 20. For more information about the presentation, please visit www.lsu.edu/ur/ocur/lsunews/MediaCenter/News/2013/03/item59440.html.
David Conover, director for the Division of Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation, or NSF, gave a presentation on Wednesday, March 27. For more information about the presentation, visit www.lsu.edu/ur/ocur/lsunews/MediaCenter/News/2013/03/item59709.html.
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, visit http://www.lsu.edu/faculty_staff/vcsearch/candidates.shtml.