Southern Region Academic Programs and Experiment Station Directors Joint Meeting

Southern Region Academic Programs and
Experiment Station Directors Joint Meeting

September 10 – 11, 2019

Embassy Suites, Atlanta Airport, Atlanta, GA


Time Session Topic – Notes and Presentations
Tuesday, September 10
Public/Private Partnerships to Sustain High Cost Programs
Moderator – Lesley Oliver, AES, University of Kentucky
1:00 Successful University Partnerships – Robert Butera, Vice President for Research Operations,     Office of the Executive Vice President for Research, Georgia Institute of Technology

Summary notes –

Provided a history and overview of the Biomedical Engineering Department, which is a joint department between Georgia Tech (a public institution) and Emory (a private one).  The department has been functioning across the two universities for about 20 years and was initially started as a separate corporation created to develop a research program.  In the 90’s a NSF Engineering Research Center grant was awarded that really catalyzed the creation of the department and the first dedicated faculty member was hired in 1999. The program was a collaboration between the college of Engineering at GaTech and the School of Medicine at Emory.

Much of the activity of the centers seems to have developed organically and was facilitated by strong personal relationships between leadership at both institutions.  Though it has worked well for a long time, there have been some issues that more recently have had to be addressed and should be considered for others thinking of similar partnerships.

Some characteristics of the department:

  • The PhD program is approved by both universities and both schools are listed on the diploma
  • Applications and enrollments initially all went through Georgia Tech, so Emory-funded RAs had to be paid as sub-awards to Ga Tech. Starting in 2014 students working in Emory-led laboratories can enroll as Emory students and have the same campus privileges as any other Emory student.
  • Currently about 70 faculty involved across 2 campuses. Tenure lines are on one campus and faculty have adjunct status on the other.
  • It is not uncommon for faculty from one university to have their primary laboratory space at the other.

Some take home considerations and lesson learned:

  • At the start of the collaboration the administrations put into place an agreement and procedure regarding how IP would be handled. There is also a joint fundraising agreement in place.
  • P&T criteria and timelines are very different across the two colleges, in part because a college of medicine is involved. In addition salary expectations and teaching loads are different (Emory only guarantees 50% of salary and they must raise the rest, whereas GaTech have 9 months paid and can obtain summer salary through grants and contracts). These things all have to be taken into consideration when thinking about faculty development.
  • There are differences in graduate student tuition and fee costs, so there may be considerations of paying students through the other institution if it imposes less of a cost burden on the grant.
  • There are space utilization issues that are still being dealt with.  Though the program has evolved where faculty employed primarily by one university do their work on the other campus, there were not any formal agreements in place regarding space and occupancy so now university lawyers have concerns about liability, etc. involved with having non-university employees in their space.

Moving money across both institutions to support collective program activities continues to be an issue, especially when students and staff are working at the other campus.  There are differences in the “color” of money that each has at its discretion to support the program (Emory has more discretionary funding available while Ga Tech is more likely to be able to support things like equipment.)

1:30 AP & ES Director’s Perspectives – David Monks, AES, North Carolina State, and Scott            Willard, APS, Mississippi State

Summary notes –

David Monks from NC State provided an overview of how the research office approaches partnerships with industry partners including commodity groups.  There are a number of positions that facilitate these partnerships and activities resulting from them.  This includes Dr. Deborah Thompson who is the Director of Research Partnerships and is dedicated to matching faculty expertise and capabilities with industry or other partner interests.  They have designated commodity liaisons- one of three different people are assigned to serve as liaisons with specific commodity groups. A big consideration is often determining which faculty even wish to be approached to engage with an industry partner (roughly 2 out of 3 don’t).

Their Plant Science initiative, which includes a new state-of-the-art facility, was facilitated through these partnerships. The commodity groups were instrumental in the development of the initiative. Funding from the facility has come from multiple sources, including a grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation.  The contribution of 44 commodity group likely contributed to their success in getting the grant.

Summary notes –

Scott Willard of Mississippi State provided an overview of their Precision Agriculture Initiative. The program started with a $2.7 million gift for curriculum development from Monsanto who was looking to invest in the region.  The gift facilitates a number of activities to create capacity in precision agriculture, including the refashioning of some positions to create a cluster hire, and repurposing a couple of laboratories. In addition to the curricular and student support, the program also received funding for the Will Carpenter Field Scientist Graduate Assistantship.  The program aims to develop long-term mentorship between the student and a Monsanto scientist.

In terms of sustaining the program, the buyout of Monsanto by Bayer has impacted the program and some support is in limbo and long-term interest uncertain.  The program has attracted additional support from 2 other donors. The program is currently being sustained through those additional gifts and the 20% of the original donation that was set aside.

1:50 Q&A and Open Discussion – All
2:30 Small Group Strategy Sessions – (table groups of 6 – 8)
2:45 Break (during small group time)
3:15 Report out
Summary notes –

  • May want to consider an effort to minimize competition with one another for the same major industry partners- for niche industries, is there a way to ensure the two or three states or institutions involved can carve out a territory? For grand challenges like water issues, are there parts each player would want to pick to focus on along with the associated partners?
  • There is interest in learning from others about how they navigate industry contracts. Is there a way to facilitate multi-institutional matching for larger private foundation investments in an area?
  • What characteristics should P3s have at institutions like ours?:
  • Relationships built at multiple levels within to ensure responsiveness
  • Promotion of programming- message should be unified but also thoughtful of clientele needs
  • Should has a way to ensure that upper administration is on board with our partnering efforts and a mechanism to keep everyone on the same page
  • Are there models for working with commodity partners to create endowed chair positions for a targeted amount (is there a way multiple commodities could contribute to the endowing gift of mutual benefit or for producers who are part of an association to collectively contribute to one).
  • Can we develop best practices for entering into multimillion-dollar agreements- both for gifting arrangements and contracts (is there a decision tree for when they should be handled by central or college-level corporate engagement office vs. a department)?
  • Are there guidelines for how we maintain our moral compass- what should the purpose be and how do we ensure the activity is within our mission?
  • Are there best practices for dealing with top-down requests to respond to industry inquiries (faculty interest level vs. political pressure to respond to someone who has entre to the university president).
  • Is there a model for a college-level industrial relations position who fosters these activities and fields inquiries from outside the university?
  • There are examples now of creative industry partnerships that benefit both parties:
  • A commodity group deal where they leased the land, put a building on it, and then returned the land to the university. Cost a quarter of what it would cost for university to build building.
  • Monsanto had farm facility next to campus that we wanted, but they gave it to BF Smith Foundation – Delta Council. Then, Delta Council leased the property to us. ARS gave us money to build a water center there.  We could not build a new building (per university lawyers) but could renovate an older building (per ARS contract agreement).
  • University owns a facility, but leases it to private industry to operate. TAMU has this for SW Dairy – private company operates dairy and TAMU conducts research there.
  • MSU does this with poultry, they own the houses, but work with PECO, who provides birds, feed, veterinary care. We provide the labor in growing out the birds but they allow us to do feeding and environmental experiments on them. Now also work with Choretime as well.
  • MSU also does this on US Fish and Wildlife Centers, Forest Service, ARS, and APHIS.

OSU has similar arrangement with Tyson on swine.

3:45 Next Steps
Summary notes –

  • Survey the institutions to see who has positions dedicated to industrial relations or partnerships (other than a philanthropy officer) and gather details about the duties and responsibilities (i.e., job description), their reporting structure (I.e., who do they report to, is there dotted-line responsibility to a central office, etc.), and how their performance is evaluated.
  • Develop a set of best practices or models for industry partnership agreements at the multimillion dollar level that could be shared among the institutions- could include gifts or contracts
    • As a subset of that see if we can get an example of an agreement for leasing land to a private entity that they build a facility on and either gift to us or allow us to use.
  • Consider developing a set of guiding principles with respect to industry partnerships.

Wendy and Eric will work with planning committee to develop brief survey on these questions

4:00 Adjourn for the day
Wednesday, September 11
6:30  – Breakfast – hotel atrium
Joint Teaching & Research Appointments – Measuring Excellence
Moderator – Susan Sumner, APS, Virginia Tech
8:00 Measuring Excellence – Thomas Archibald, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education, Virginia Tech

Thomas Archibald presentation

 8:45 AP & ES Director’s Perspectives – Cynda Clary, APS, Oklahoma State and Paul Patterson, AES, Auburn

Cynda Clary presentation – Overview of OSU’s Building and Rewarding Quality Teaching Program
Paul Patterson and Henry Fadamiro presentation – Auburn’s approach to promoting scholarship and evaluating their success

9:10 Q&A and Open Discussion – All
9:30 Small Group Strategy Sessions – (table groups of 6 – 8)
9:45 Break (during small group time)
10:15 Report out
10:45 Next Steps
Summary notes –The groups generated several topics that could be discussion items at future meetings.

  • Process to redistribute a faculty member’s appointment
  • How to help faculty work at the center of their skillset
  • Evaluation process – be sure that impacts are relevant to general public for all mission areas)
  • Data analytics
    • Unit performance measures

Program to motivate faculty

11:00 Adjourn
Guest Speakers

Robert Butera serves as Vice President for Research Operations (VPRO) in the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  The VPRO is responsible for supporting and developing the research programs, operating the internally funded research programs in collaboration with the colleges, overseeing core facilities and research space, and managing policies related to research administration and operations.

Dr. Butera earned his Ph.D. from Rice University and a bachelor of electrical engineering degree from Georgia Tech. In addition to his duties in the College of Engineering, he has served as a professor with joint appointments in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.


Thomas Archibald is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education at Virginia Tech, where he also directs the Feed the Future Senegal Youth in Agriculture project. A winner of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Marcia Guttentag Promising New Evaluator Award, he serves on the Board of the Eastern Evaluation Research Society and is an Associate Editor of the journal Evaluation and Program Planning. He facilitates numerous evaluation capacity building workshops each year for AEA and other groups.

Dr. Archibald earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Adult and Extension Education and a B.S in Animal Science from Cornell University.  His research interests are in program planning and evaluation in non-formal education and his Extension programs are focused on fostering a culture of evaluation whereby Extension professionals have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for wide-spread, sustained, and high-quality evaluation across the system.