Universities such as SMU serve society by educating students and creating knowledge through scholarly research. Dedman College faculty have long been enthusiastic participants in the process of discovery, and many departments have vigorous and productive cultures of research.
Leading Research Activity
Over the past three years, external research grants to the University have surpassed $63 million. Dedman College research – more than $36 million over three years – accounts for 57 percent of SMU's research grants.
External funding for research in Dedman College will increase to $20 million annually by 2015, in keeping with the goals of SMU's Centennial Strategic Plan.
- Number of external grant applications submitted.
- Percentage of faculty submitting grant applications.
- Number of postdoctoral researchers.
- Support for faculty research from the Dean's Research Council and other College sources.
- Square footage of office and research space in Dedman College.
SMU and the College were relatively slow, however, in developing an institution-wide commitment to research and in establishing the infrastructure necessary to support high research and grant activity. Although progress in these directions, led by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, has been significant in recent years, more must be done to leverage the research capabilities of the College, facilitate funded research and remove structural impediments to investigators. In addition, adequate physical space, especially for laboratories and collaborative spaces in the natural and social sciences, is essential for a vibrant institutional program of research. So too is up-to-date technology that supports the work of scholars and students.
By investing in the organizational and physical infrastructure for research, and by promoting a broad and vigorous culture of scholarly exploration, Dedman College is well positioned to stimulate research activity, increase external grant funding and boost its national reputation. Enhanced research in Dedman College will benefit Dallas by generating new economic opportunities and addressing a variety of pressing social, political and cultural challenges in the local community.
Assess and refocus College efforts to promote funded research. A variety of programs that help faculty from across the College compete for external grants should be developed. Start-up funding packages must remain competitive to attract top researchers to the faculty. Current College efforts to encourage research activity should be evaluated and reorganized, if necessary, to guarantee the most effective use of resources.
Align the organization of the Dedman College Dean's Office with the goal of advancing research. A new position at the associate dean level should be created to stimulate scholarly activity and lead College efforts to encourage externally funded research. This new appointment should work closely with faculty and with SMU's Office of Research and Graduate Studies.
Support initiatives like the Dean's Research Council to provide seed and bridge funding to faculty. Private support should play a significant role in stimulating research activity and providing resources for promising new projects.
Implement a new space policy, seeking ways to optimize the use of existing space and gain additional campus resources as they become available. Research and grant activity in Dedman College will not be able to grow substantially without additional physical space. More efficient use of existing resources will provide some short-term relief, but ultimately Dedman College will require significant new space for researchers in the social and natural sciences.
Improve instrumentation and computational facilities. Up-to-date equipment for research and teaching in the sciences should be acquired and maintained. Continuous development of the network and computer infrastructure that provides a backbone for research across Dedman College should be prioritized.
Develop sources for the support of graduate student research projects. In addition to supporting undergraduate and faculty research, the College should identify resources to support promising research endeavors of graduate students.