Ronald T. Borchardt: During my tenure as a department chair, I became a strong advocate of strategic planning. Our planning process started in 1984 when the faculty participated in a retreat. At that retreat, we asked ourselves, Who are our customers? What services are we providing to our customers? How are their worlds changing? This exercise was a very healthy experience. From this retreat, we developed a strategic plan that we now update annually.
Lynn Melton, University of Texas at Dallas: I am delighted by the compliments you are getting on your programs. I would like to remind people about the doctor of chemistry program at the University of Texas at Dallas, which has been in operation since 1983. We have had a 90 percent direct placement into industry and probably 60 industrial practicum students by now with 50 graduates. We asked our industrial friends what their jobs were like, and then we designed a curriculum to produce students who would be successful in the chemical process industry. We would be delighted to have any of you come on campus and find out whether our ideas are exportable to you. All students have an industrial internship of 9 to 12 months, paid for by industry, in which they are mentored as an industrial problem solver and solve problems to the benefit of the company. A lot of this material is available to you. We have taken it through the pilot stage and will be glad to share it.
Kathleen C. Taylor, General Motors: I think, Ron, you have managed to press the industrial hot button in this last session. I want to congratulate you on bringing up the globalization issue and the initiative that you have started. I think it is one of the most important things I have heard about at this meeting. I was interested to hear that foreign universities seem to be able to find a way to send students to work with you for these symposia. My question is, what have you learned in working with those institutions that is different, pro and con, that we should try to capture in our work in view of trying to bring globalization into the educational process?
Ronald T. Borchardt: I think the real question is what our students have learned, because this program is focused on providing new experiences for our graduate students.
Ernest L. Eliel, University of North Carolina: I am a schizophrenic in that I am both an elitist and an anti-elitist. Most of the time in these meetings, I put on my anti-elitist hat. I must now put on my elitist hat. In looking around the room, I have noticed that there are about a dozen universities in this country that have well-known chemistry departments that are not represented. I agree that one of the important functions of a university is to serve the student, and serving the student includes preparing him or her for a job. But there is another function of the university, which I have not heard about, and that is to advance the frontiers of knowledge. I think we must never forget that this is one of the purposes of the university and that we cannot be exclusively the handmaidens of industry. Universities have a divided role, and in our department, we have faced up to this divided role.
We have some faculty members who are collaborating with industries and even have their own businesses. Some also have very big interdisciplinary grants and turn out students in applied science fields who are readily hired. Others are doing synthesis, and their students are also readily hired. We also have some members on our faculty who are doing fundamental research whose impact cannot be seen perhaps for 10 or 20 years. If we stop doing fundamental research or research that does not yield an immediate return, I think we should close all of our universities and turn our attention to trade schools.
Ronald T. Borchardt: I fully agree with what you just said.