late internal collaboration in order to leverage resources and provide access and opportunity for research experiences to larger numbers of students. In addition, it enables researchers to share their findings and promotes more interdisciplinary activities. ERIs can develop “learning communities” especially for junior faculty where there is not a critical mass of disciplinary expertise in one department. In that model, young faculty members would not be embedded in older departments with most of the faculty already tenured. They would, instead, be able to find the synergy needed to incubate and nurture innovative ideas.
Administrators must be better informed about the value and cost of doing research, as a number of participants emphasized. Realistic estimates of expenditures needed for research support personnel, materials, and equipment will help guide decisions about research investments. Realistically, developing a research enterprise is difficult and expensive. However, good strategic planning and investment can optimize the results and minimize the liabilities.
Many participants stressed the need for ERIs to provide seed capital for emerging and potentially productive research areas that could increase their capacity to compete. They stated that the institutions also should provide attractive start-up packages to recruit bright experimental scientists and young investigators to enable them to become productive, high-performing researchers.
Marcus Shute commented that ERIs could appeal to state legislatures, federal agencies, and foundations for funding to propel these institutions into more competitive research enterprises. He added that they should encourage federal agencies to provide grant programs to enable minority-serving institutions to develop the critical mass of research talent needed (UT-Brownsville and UT-El Paso models) to support the nation’s scientific and technological foundation. Programs such as the NSF Math and Science Partnership and Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation have helped institutions such as UTEP to achieve research-intensive status. Research is important enough to the educational enterprise that some mechanism, such as a variation of the EPSCoR model, could be explored to competitively fund research at the institutions that serve the majority of students who are underrepresented in the STEM disciplines.
Workshop participants reiterated that collaboration and partnerships among ERIs, research institutions, and other organizations can offer solutions to the infrastructure impediments to research. They echoed the sentiment that research and education are not mutually exclusive, particularly in the context of educating the future workforce, and that ERIs should exploit the resources that can enable them to reach the next level of institutional enterprise development. The participants noted that “strategic” is the operative term in forming partnerships so that ERIs can market their intellectual assets effectively.