Academic institutions across the country are rethinking their roles in society, how scholarly impact is created and disseminated, and funding sources that support innovation and cross-cutting collaborations.
The University of Arizona recently took creative steps by initiating Tech Launch Arizona, a new unit that represents a prioritization, restructuring and resource enhancement of technology commercialization across the entire institution.
In that same vein, the UA Faculty Senate has implemented new promotion and tenure criteria for faculty that creates a more inclusive view of scholarship by taking into account translational research, technology commercialization and industry and community-based collaborations.
The University is intent upon opening new channels of funding and impact via industry-sponsored research and technology commercialization.
The move represents a cultural shift with new emphasis on working beyond the boundaries of the University to develop and commercialize UA-created inventions and to provide know-how and expertise to industry. It is expected to attract a cadre of faculty and students that want new experiences and outlets for creativity.
Additionally, the new criteria support an innovative environment and reputation that attracts donors and further alumni engagement. It will strengthen economic development locally, statewide and beyond.
The new promotion/tenure criteria were approved within hours of Tech Launch Arizona celebrating the grand opening of its new offices. Tech Launch Arizona will move knowledge and inventions developed by UA researchers into the market, with the primary goal of unifying UA research and business communities to enhance the impact of University research, technological innovation and UA Science and Technology Park assets.
At the opening, UA President Ann Weaver Hart said, "We will need to create new knowledge with new partners and in new places for us to be able to achieve the vision of the 21st century land-grant university."
Following the lead of Wanda Howell, chair of the faculty, the Academic Personnel and Policy Committee, or APPC, put forward the proposal, which was approved by the Faculty Senate.
The criteria take into account the fact that promotion and tenure requre excellent performance and the continued promise of excellence in teaching, service, research, creative work and scholarship.
"The University values an inclusive view of scholarship in the recognition that knowledge is acquired and advanced through discovery, integration, application and teaching," the proposal states. "Given this perspective, promotion and tenure reviews, as detailed in the criteria of individual departments and colleges, will recognize original research contributions in peer-reviewed publications as well as integrative and applied forms of scholarship that involve cross-cutting collaborations with business and community partners, including translational research, commercialization activities and patents."
Howell, a Distinguished Professor, said, "These revisions build on the tradition of innovation that is rooted in the land-grant mission of the University of Arizona."
In setting out this "inclusive view of scholarship," the APPC cited Hart's Inaugural Address, which called upon the faculty to launch a "serious University-wide" effort to develop "promotion and tenure provisions in every field that truly recognize integration and application, as well as basic discovery and creative work."