Princeton University

Princeton Weekly Bulletin   December 4, 2006, Vol. 96, No. 11   prev   next   current

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University names first dean for research, restructures support for funding efforts

Princeton NJ — In a move intended to improve its competitiveness for research funding, the University has appointed longtime faculty member A.J. Stewart Smith as its first dean for research, and is restructuring its efforts to seek support from corporations and foundations.

A.J. Stewart Smith

A.J. Stewart Smith

Smith has served since July 2005 as chair of the University Research Board. In his new role as dean, he will oversee the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations (CFR), which currently reports to the director of development and will retain a dotted-line relationship to the development office. The Office of Research and Project Administration (ORPA) also will now report to Smith instead of the provost, to improve coordination with CFR and to enhance support for faculty applying for government-sponsored research grants. Finally, research units that currently report to the provost, including the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, will now report to Smith. The changes were approved Nov. 18 by the University’s Board of Trustees. All are effective immediately except for the CFR change, which will be implemented in concert with the development office over the next several months.

“In the years ahead, Princeton’s researchers will likely confront a challenging environment as they seek to raise funds,” said Provost Christopher Eisgruber. “The costs of top-quality research continue to rise. At the same time, some government agencies have been forced to reduce the support they provide for basic research.

“The dean for research will help the University’s faculty and research staff to compete effectively for funding and to form new partnerships and collaborations,” he said. “The position’s new title will make it easier for both internal and external audiences to recognize the dean as the University’s key spokesperson on issues of research policy.”

Smith’s rank as chair of the University Research Board was already equivalent to that of dean. “So in some ways we are living up to, and clarifying, aspirations that have long been stated,” said Eisgruber.

Smith will continue to oversee the University Research Board, which consists of six faculty members, providing administrative oversight of organized research activities throughout the University, dealing with questions of policy in the acceptance and administration of research grants and contracts, and supervising the application of established policy in this area. The Office of Research and Project Administration is the administrative arm of the board.

The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations works with University faculty members and administrators and with corporations and foundations to identify sources of support and facilitate funding for the University’s academic initiatives, research programs and institutional priorities.

“By adding to the strength of the new team under the dean for research, Princeton will enhance the ability of faculty in all its divisions to enter into successful partnerships with foundations and corporations, and to obtain government funding,” Eisgruber said. “The dean for research will work with CFR and ORPA to ensure that they are responsive to the needs of the faculty.”

Having research units such as the Plasma Physics Lab reporting directly to the dean of research will “facilitate the senior research officer’s ability to seed collaborations among such units, and it will also enable him to support their research functions more actively,” Eisgruber said.

During this restructuring, Smith said he will be consulting with faculty and staff members on how to implement new practices and strengthen University support for corporate and foundation fund raising.

“After a year of learning the ropes,” he said, “I’m firmly convinced we need a new approach to supporting research, and am honored to be part of the team that will bring it about. We have a great opportunity to increase Princeton’s competitiveness, but have to get it right! I strongly believe in a bottom-up approach, and will be widely seeking ideas and advice over the next few months.”

Eisgruber added, “Since his appointment a little more than a year ago, Stew Smith has performed his role vigorously and effectively. I am confident that the University will benefit from the additional visibility that will attend the change in his title. I very much look forward to working with him to make Princeton an even more hospitable environment for world-class research.”

Smith is a leading researcher in high-energy particle physics and a nationally known figure in science policy. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of British Columbia, he came to Princeton as a graduate student and received his Ph.D. in physics in 1966. He joined the faculty in 1967 and served as chair of the physics department from 1990 to 1998 and associate chair from 1979 to 1982. Since 1992, he has been the Class of 1909 Professor of Physics.

Over the years, Smith has carried out a succession of major experiments in particle physics at U.S. national laboratories. Since 1995, he has served as scientific team leader of an international collaboration of 600 scientists from 10 countries involved in a project based at the Stanford Linear Accelerator. A fellow of the American Physical Society, he has been a member of the experiments committee for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland, and has served on boards for many other groups, including the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Academy of Sciences, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Research Council of Canada.


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