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Development of research plan launched

By Jeff Green | Nov. 10, 2009

Memorial wants to map its future course when it comes to research and is looking to hear from as many stakeholders as possible to help steer the university in the right direction.

Dr. Christopher W. Loomis, president and vice-chancellor pro tempore, launched the development of the university’s research plan on Nov. 10.

It will set out the university’s research strengths, activities and future goals.

In a letter to all deans and directors, posted on the research plan website, Dr. Loomis said the success of the plan will be based on the support it receives from the university community.

“I look forward to your full engagement and collaboration in this key initiative for the advancement of Memorial,” Dr. Loomis wrote in the letter.

The research plan is being supported by the university’s senior administration.

Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president research pro tempore, and Dr. Reeta Tremblay, vice-president academic pro tempore, are the executive leads, while academic deans and directors are the steering committee.

Dr. Rob Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre, has been seconded to help guide the development of the plan.

The university has also contracted Dr. Kevin Keough, a former vice-president (research) at Memorial and professor emeritus, and hired Kate Reid-Shute as a full-time research assistant to work on the plan.

“We are also drawing on colleagues in the Office of Research, the Centre for Institutional Analysis and Planning and the Division of Marketing and Communications,” added Dr. Greenwood. “And we will be drawing on faculty, staff and students throughout the process.”

The impetus for the research plan flows from Memorial’s Strategic Plan which was released in 2007. One of the five pillars in that document focuses on research, creative activity and scholarship. Under that pillar, there are five goals relating to the advancement of research at Memorial.

The new plan will address these goals, including the review of existing research themes and their development to recognize Memorial’s strengths, support the needs of the province and embrace global opportunities.

“It will identify existing and potential research partnerships within and outside the university, how to strengthen the supports for research at Memorial, how to enhance and allocate research funding, and it will establish measures for research engagement and productivity,” noted Dr. Gosine.

“The research plan will enable Memorial to build on its strengths, address needs and seize opportunities across the full spectrum of research activity,” added Dr. Tremblay.

The first phase of the plan will include gathering input from faculties, schools and research centres including what they see as their strengths, what their needs are and what new research opportunities could be advanced under the plan. 

A background report will then be released. It will look at some of the external trends and opportunities such as how Memorial’s research output compares to some other universities, what are various federal, provincial and funding council priorities and opportunities, and what are existing research needs expressed by Newfoundland and Labrador communities, industry and other stakeholders.

“After Christmas we will then consult inside and outside the university on what we have learned from this work, and ask stakeholders to say what they think the university should be doing, and ask faculties, schools and research centres to start to contribute to setting goals and objectives,” Dr. Greenwood said. “Our website will allow individuals and groups to express their views on Memorial’s research priorities, and we will hold open forums for faculty, staff and students to express their views on the emerging goals, objectives, actions and targets.”

The intent is to have the consultations completed by March or April of next year, with the finalized plan ready for release by next summer.