The meetings Monday morning and afternoon were two in a series of six town hall meetings meant to provide IU faculty, staff and students a voice in the selection of the candidate, according to the website of the executive vice president for university academic affairs.
The meetings Monday introduced faculty to David Reingold, and the meetings last Wednesday introduced faculty to Michael McGinnis. Meetings Thursday will introduce faculty to Michael Wade.
Wade has served as interim associate vice president for research and vice provost for research since Sarita Soni retired from the position in May.
The selected candidate will be responsible for overseeing current internal funding programs, developing new external funding sources, overseeing current research development services and fostering high quality research, according to the website of the executive vice president for university academic affairs.
Reingold said there is an enormous disconnect between the faculty’s expectations of what the office of the vice provost for research should be doing and the actual capacity and the capabilities of the office to meet faculty expectations.
“There’s got to be a good bit of effort put forward on trying to continue to build up the organizational capacity and the organizational capability of the (office of the vice provost for research) so that it can actually meet some of the faculty expectations that exist,” he said.
Reingold said his current positions as professor and ?executive associate dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs will allow him to the meet expectations of faculty — and not just the expectations of faculty from SPEA.
SPEA is unusual, Reingold said, in that, between environmental affairs, public affairs and arts management, it combines the natural sciences, the social sciences and, to an extent, the arts and humanities in one school.
“I think of SPEA of being a bit of a microcosm of the University at large,” Reingold said. “And my sense is that it’s going to be important for this person coming in to have some familiarity and comfort with the really phenomenal breadth of intellectual inquiry that we have on this campus.”
Reingold responded to faculty who have an interest in arts and humanities and were voicing concerns regarding an excess focus on natural and mathematical sciences research and the lagging focus on arts and humanities research.
“The tradition of this campus has deep and long roots in the arts and humanities,” Reingold said. “Those are areas that need to be defended and propagated.”
Reingold said no program currently funds major arts and humanities programs. The New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities program, however, does fund major arts and humanities projects, as faculty with an interest in arts and humanities were quick to correct.
Apart from focusing on arts and humanities research, as well as natural and mathematical sciences, Reingold said he would focus on expanding research on all campuses, though without diminishing research at the Bloomington campus.
“I see Bloomington as being the historic and present core of the inquiry and research identity of the University,” he said. “I think that has got to continue.”
Both the IU Strategic Plan, proposed by IU President Michael McRobbie, and the IU-Bloomington campus-specific Strategic Plan, proposed by Provost Lauren Robel, encourage faculty to identify grand challenges during the next few years.
The plans define “grand challenges” as widespread problems that are best identified and tackled by multidisciplinary teams of ?researchers.
These challenges will be identified through competitions between teams of ?faculty.
When asked about his approach to identifying grand challenges, Reingold said he would hope to encourage not only the winning teams, but the losing teams, as he believes that ideas of the losing teams might end up being more successful than the ideas of the winning teams.
The IU Strategic Plan also proposed that IU appoint a Blue Ribbon Review Committee to assess the feasibility of expanding and establishing an engineering program on the Bloomington campus.
Reingold said he intends to disperse the engineering faculty across many campus locations, rather than consolidate them at a single campus location, so the engineering faculty could collaborate with faculty from schools such as SPEA and the School of Informatics and Computing.
Reingold also said that, if selected, he would focus on supporting the research of doctoral students, as well as reducing the teaching loads of faculty.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think that a research office could make a university great,” he said.