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August 30, 1966 - Image 51

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1966-08-30

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The University 'sResearch: Continuous 6


The University of Michigan's
involvement in research dates
back to the 1930's, but the broad,
complex research program that is
now such an integral part of this
institution, $42 million worth last
year, really got underway during
and immediately after World War
The teams of scientists and en-
gineers that had been put to-
gether for war projects were kept
together afterwards as the fed-
eral government continued to sup-
ply support for defense-oriented
The Michigan Aeronautical Re-
search Center was established
during this period at Willow Run
Airport to carry on ballistic mis-
sile and radar surveillance studies.
The BOMARC missile was named
after Boeing and the center, both
of which developed it.
One product of the research and
development efforts fostered by
the war was Pof. Ralph A. Saw-
yer, one of many University fac-
ulty members who were involved
in war projects with the govern-
4 Sawyer was one of the super-
visors of the Bikini Atoll atomic
bomb tests before he was brought
back to the University to become
dean of the graduate school.
As dean, Sawyer was mainly re-
sponsible for guiding the Univer-
sity's research program to a multi-
million dollar level. Increasingly
large amounts of federal money
available, first in the "hard"
sciences and later in more and
more fields, was attracted by the
University's excellent faculty and
put to use in strengthening Uni-
versity facilities and graduate
In 1958 Sawyer's-and the Uni-
versity's-involvement in research
was recognized through his ap-
pointmentto the newly created
post of vice-president for research.
In the summer of 1964 Sawyer re-
tired from this position and the
deanship and was succeeded in
the research vice-presidency by
A. Geoffrey Norman, another fac-
ulty member who was intimately
involved in the nation's scientific
efforts during World War II.
Under Norman the University's
research is continuing to expand,
though at a somewhat slower rate
-10 per cent this year, to about
$48 million, as opposed to 15 per
cent and more in previous years.
The University is continuing to
N. set the pace in its research con-
tributions. Discounting the special
laboratories run for the govern-
ment by some universities, the
University of Michigan's program
is the largest in the country for
a single campus.
While Washington politicians
* continue to complain about a geo-
graphical maldistribution of re-
search funds, a combination of
excellent, experienced faculty,
good administration and increas-
ing government generosity in more
and more areas of basic research
will continue, to draw research
money here. The budgets of the
National Science Foundation, the
National Institutes of Health and
the Department of Health, Edu-
cation and Welfare, to name a few
have been increasing rapidly, and
the University is sure to benefit.
Such a massive infusion 'of
money into an institution is
bound to necessitate readjust-
ments, but most changes have
been subtle and have usually been
ignored-it's much easier to ac-
cept money than to turn it down.
'here is little doubt among

most administrators and faculty
members that the principal bene-
ficiaries of the federal largess are
graduate students and the faculty
themselves. Research money al-
lows the faculty to draw high com-
pensation for nonteaching work.
Research at the same time
leaves less time for less desirable
teaching, so that universities are
forced to pay higher salaries for
less time in the classroom.
At the same time, much of the
research money that comes into
the University is tied into gradu-
ate work in some way. A profes-
sor's research projects often pro-
vide fertile ground for thesis pro-
jects among his students. They al-
so provide fairly lucrative work
both graduate and undergraduate
Of course research has spawned
many problems. Once underway
smaller projects become consoli-
dated into large programs that
often tends to acquire a great deal
of momentum. Equipment is pur-
chased, building space is filled,
often new administrative units
spring up in practice if not in
organization charts, and person-
nel are hired. The University soon
finds itself with an ongoing pro-
gram with accompanying admin-
istrative machinery that doesn't
really fit into an overall research
program or that creates faculty,
graduate, salary or other im-
The old departmental organiza-
tion system is also severely tested
in many ways. Chairmen, drawn
from the faculty, must become ex-
pert administrators, large pro-
grams, especially interdisciplinary
ones, are almost impossible to fit
into the old structure. Faculty
tend to lose their loyalties to the
University first and to their de-
partments second as they see
more and more of their money
coming from Washington or a
At the same time undergradu-
ates must be accommodated, class
rooms and office and lab space
juggled, research administration
provided and a fantastic network
of financial arrangements and
commitments kept in order.
Providing this sort of overall
direction and coordination be-
comes. a hectic undertaking.
Charting a course for the re-
search program, even keeping the
ship of state on an even keel, is,
to borrow a phrase from a crusty
old economics professor describ-
ing consumer studies, a little like
studying gravity by examining a
leaf falling from a tree during a
hurricane in the dead of night.
But the job falls to Vice-Presi-
dents Smith, Pierpont and Nor-
Rumor has it that all roads lead
to Allen Smith in the Office of
Academic Affairs. Counter-rumors
from other quarters place Pier-
pont in the Office of Business and
Finance as a toll-collector at al-
most every point. Either way (or
both), it's confusing.
Smith is in a position analogous
to the former dean of faculties.
He works closely with the deans,
department chairmen and center
and institute directors in estab-
lishing new academic programs,
-verseeing current ones, hiring
faculty and, most importantly,
controlling the University's aca-
demic budget.
Smith's principal direct involve-
ment in research is deligated to
Norman, who directs or at least
keeps tabs on research programs,
research appointments and relat-
ed problems of space and admin-
istration. The Office of Research

Lab assistants and researchers have many things up their sleeves.
The Medical Center is often more of a cohesive imot capable of
unlertaking a variety of related tasks than most administrative
centers to which the term "Center" applies.

65111 1Ii

Administration directed by Robert
Burroughs works as his staff.
In a university as decentralized
as this one and with the faculty
always hypersensisive to threats
imagined and real to their peroga-
tives, Norman's job is a tricky
one. So far he has avoided the
numerous pitfalls.
The Office of Research Admin-
istration is largely an administra-

tive mechanism that has grown
up piecemeal over the years to
deal with problems of research
grant and contract supervision
and control.
It must act in restraining, chan-
neling negotiation and mediation
roles to keep 1000 researching fac-
ulty from galloping off in 1000
different directions leaving the
tenuous administrative and fi-





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