Provost creates SMU faculty Task Force on Scholarly Research and Creative Impact

SMU Provost Steven C. Currall appoints a new task force to recommend ways to boost SMU’s profile as the leading research university in the region.

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven C. Currall has appointed 17 University faculty members to serve on the Task Force on Scholarly Research and Creative Impact. The new task force, which began meeting in October, will examine and recommend ways for SMU to strengthen its scholarly research and creative activities to bolster the University’s position as the leading global research university in North Texas.

“SMU is in a unique position because of our geography, resources and faculty expertise to make significant strides in scholarly research,” Currall said. “For example, our high-performance computing capability, a university-wide focus on interdisciplinarity, and arts and cybersecurity research, along with our advantageous location near the heart of Dallas, have the University poised to expand its research footprint and become an even stronger catalyst for regional economic prosperity.”

Currall said the task force will provide “vital faculty-led guidance on how to strengthen our scholarly research and creative activities,” adding that “faculty leadership in this endeavor is crucial.”

The task force is studying the awareness and influence of SMU’s scholarly research and creative impact among University stakeholders such as the academic community, governmental funding agencies, governmental leaders, philanthropic sources, the business community, current and prospective students, and alumni.

Awareness of the University’s research and creative work comes in many forms, including published work such as books and articles; presentations at conferences and workshops; creative works in the visual and performing arts; and the career achievements of faculty and alumni, in the form of major awards and fellowships or research citations.

The influence of SMU’s work is found in the changing perceptions, decisions and actions of those major SMU stakeholders – increased funding for research and creative work; the  informing of public policy, regulatory decisions, and new artistic genres; new standards and practices for buildings, technology or healthcare; and the formation and successes of for-profit or non-profit organizations and new companies.

“I am delighted that the University is seeking input and guidance from its faculty on issues that will strengthen scholarly research and creative impact at SMU,” said task force chair Fred Chang, director of SMU's Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security and Bobby B. Lyle Endowed Centennial Distinguished Chair in Cyber Security. “We are committed to the goal of enhancing academic quality and University stature and feel that our task force report will play an important role.”

“Since the mid-20th century, discovery and innovation at U.S. universities have contributed increasingly to our nation’s economic expansion and to improvements in the quality of life, to the extent that a leading U.S. university is now expected to produce impactful research and scholarship,” said James E. Quick, associate vice president for research and dean of graduate studies at SMU. “In the context of this 21st-century reality, the importance of the task force’s charge cannot be overstated as its recommendations will shape University investment strategies to optimize the impact of research and scholarship by our faculty and students for years to come.” 

Topics to be addressed by the task force include:

  • Areas of excellence that distinguish SMU from peer institutions
  • Key interdisciplinary themes that both unite faculty and address global challenges
  • Collaboration with other regional, national and international institutions
  • Maximizing current SMU strengths
  • Success measures for scholarly research and creative impact
  • Identifying obstacles to research and creative impact
  • Discussion of the role of incubation and innovation centers

Task force membership includes SMU professors in a variety of disciplines from each of SMU’s seven schools. The task force will submit its recommendations by March 15, 2017. Read the provost’s charge to the task force members.