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August 24, 1965 - Image 43

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1965-08-24

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the Frontier of now

Providing this sort of overall
direction and coordination be-
comes a heroic 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-
Presidents Heyns, Pierpont and
Norman.
Rumor, has it that all roads
lead to Roger W. Heyns in the
Office of Academic Affairs. Coun-
ter-rumors from other quarters
place Pierpont in the Office of
Business and Finance as a toll-
collector ,at almost every point.'
ither way (or both), it's con-
fusing.
Analogous
Heyns is in a position analogous
-4 the former dean of faculties.
He works closely with the deans,'
department chairmen and center
and institute directors in estab-
lishing new academic programs,
overseeing current ones, hiring
faculty and, most importantly,
controlling the University's aca-
demic budget.
Heyns' principal direct involve-
ment in research is delegated 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
Administration directed by Robert
Burroughs works as. his staff.
IB a university as decentralized
as this one and with the faculty
always hypersensitive 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-
neilng negotiation and mnediation-
roles to keep 1000 researching fac-
ulty from galloping off in 1000
different directions leaving the
tenuous administrative and fi-
nancial threads that hold the Uni-
versity' together to collapse into
a heap of paperwork.
Both Ends
And it is Pierpont. that keeps
those financial threads taut and
tied down at both ends. He has,
in accordance with his theories of
decentralization, delegated his
orge-image among researchers to
A. B. Hicks, who supervises the
Sponsored Research Business Of-
fice. Some would say he does this
in order to find time to think up
new ways of bothering the fac-
ulty with bureaucratic problems.
Pierpont and Hicks would reply,
however, that they aren't here to
make friends, that there are 1600
research projects at the Univer-
sity, all of which have accounts
that require supervision with pur-
chases that have to be audited,
personnel that have to be paid-
as government auditors require in-
creasingly complex records of
where federal money goes.~
There are, in any case, fairly
large areas of overlapping author-
1 ity between the Office of Research
Administration and Hicks' Spon-
sored Research Business Office
and they resulting problems are
being worked but slowly and pain-
fully. There isn't any open fight-
ing, just subtle, warfare, as in so

much of the University.
What generally happens is that
each faculty member will manage
after a period of trial and error
to establish some small entrance
to this great bureaucratic mechan-
ism, generally through a personal
contact. It may be someone in
ORA, one of the vice-presidents,
a knowledgable and influential
dean or department chairman, or
an obscure assistant somewhere in
the system.
Once such a contact is set up.
the faculty member hangs on to
it for dear life, using it to get
him whatever is needed to keep
the bureaucrats happy and as far
away from him and his research
and his graduate students as pos-
sible.
Life goes on
Research Centers
Superimposing a $42 million re-
search program onto the old Uni-
versity structure has created ex-
citing new possibilities that may
make the administrative problems
worth it in the end, but certainly
the disciplined old departmental
system will never be the same.
Interdisciplinary appointments,
centers and institutes and study'
programs have proliferated, and
many have the most tenuous of
relationships to any of the de-
partments connected with them.
The largest and internally most
cohesive unit at the University is
the Medical Center, even though
in this case the term refers to
geographical arrangement and
not to administrative organiza-
tion.
(The Mehical Center is more
of a cohesive, well-structured unit
to undertake a variety of related
tasks than most administrative
units to which the term center is
actually applied.)j
Presided over by Dean William
Hubbard, a figure comparable only
to Pierpont for suavity and disci-
plined control of an organization,
the Medical Center operates al-
most autonomous from the rest of
the University.
Growing Fast1
Research in the biomedical
sciences is growing faster than
in any other field. This fact, cou-
pled with the tremendously high
level of financial support given to
medicine in general in the United
States, makes research at the
Medical Center exciting, expand-
ing, productive and expensive.
After the Medical Center the
Institute for Science and Tech-
nology is the largest University
research unit. Established in the
late 1950's after the Sputnik spur
to education, IST has never really
gotten off the ground as an or-
ganized, driving force for re-
search and education largely be-
cause there was never enough
thought given to exactly how it
would fit into the University.
Most programs in the fields of
science and technology are more
easily fitted to old departmental
patterns than wrenched out and
placed in a separate institute with
other programs with which they
have very little in common.
It was thought for a while that
the institute could fall back on a
program of aid and encourage-
ment for Michigan industry, but
there has never been much in the
University that could be related
directly to Michigan's economic
development.
Not Enough
IST does have a productive In-
dustrial Development Division,
but there isn't enough there to
fill a program on the scale set 'up

Science-Antithesis, Response
IN SUGGESTING ways of in- nological specialization, inci- intellectuals to a scientia with-
troducing students to the dentally manages to stiffle phil- out values has been increasing-
scientia of our time, I have not osophical synthesis and ethical ly restive but-because the is-
accounted sufficiently for the speculation. In proceeding from sues have been wrongly defined
evolutionary nature of culture. a broad survey at the base to -quite undirected and often
Because scientia, like tech- a narrow parochialism at the merely nostalgic. It erupts oc-
nology, is perpetually in a state apex, the university curriculum casionally in attacks on science
of becoming, an education that not only trains efficient spe- and scientific method-attacks
merely indoctrinated students calists. that ignore the underlying sim-
in the structure of images at a It also protects obsolete ilarity in the attitudes of the
given moment would be passive scientism from being subjected scientist, the artist, and the
and conservative-the mirror or to effective criticism by ob- humanist-scholar.
the servant of dominant intel- structing from the advanced If our scientia, and the edu-
lectual forces. student a commanding view of cation that sustains it, deserves
This education ought to be the topography of his culture. criticism, it is unlikely to re-
rather their critic and genera- At the root of these prob- ceive it from without, since it
tor, and that is a demanding lems is the preoccupation of e n c o m p a s s e s all creative
higher education into new twentieth-century scientia with thought in our time.
paths always has imparted to function and process, and with It will not give way to a com-
its institutions inertial forces the nature of observation, peting system but will evolve,
powerful enough to carry pre- which is a cause as well as a as scientia always has, by gen-
valling images far beyond their result of the insecurities of our erating its own antitheses and
useful life span, to the point time. responses.
at which their obsolescence is It has brought extraordinary For this reason, I am con-
evident to even the stuffiest progress in science and scholar- vinced that the healing of pres-
academic minds. ship, and radical changes in ent illnesses in our culture can
Furthermore, the prevail- the arts, but it has not sought be effected only by those who
ing scientia not only may be or promoted solutions to the are committed to it and versed
hostile to images different major dilemmas of human in it, as well as in its traditions,
from ,those it promotes, but existence and behavior, nor and not by those who reject
consciously .or unconsciously it even provided the means of -our most distinguished and
mission. assessing the value of its own characteristic products - the
The effort required to direct achievements. work of the Wittgensteins, de
may organizesits education so It is because of its concern Koonings, Beckets - on the
that criticism is frustrated with process that our scientia grounds that they somehow
This deficiency would explain has exalted the technician and lack the old humanistic values.
some of the paradoxes of con- thus actually has blurred the -JAMES S. ACKERMAN
temporary higher education, distinction between technique In Daedalus, the Journal
which, in being designed to and scientia that I am attempt- of the American Academy
promote empiricism and tech- ing to revive. The reaction of of Arts and Sciences
for the institute. So the director, it in the early 1950's. ISR was most spectacular "spin-off" ha
Prof. James T. Wilson, is left with started in connection with the been the Mental Health Researc
a beautiful building and various burgeoning pseudo-science of sur- Institute, variously identified a
programs picked up from odd very research. From meager be- a bastion of systems theory an
places in the University, none of ginnings - the University offered a spawner of radicalism.
which really fit together. Likert and his colleagues heat, MHRI's innocuous title mask
These include the Biophysics light and space but no money for one of the most exciting and di
Lab a n d the Electro-Optical operations and salaries - Likert verse centers of activity at th
Sciences Lab, the only original built the institute into one of the University. Prof. Anatol Rapopor
products of the attempt to make greatest social science operations professes to be in a field callet
IST' a real science institute. And in the world, with some outstand- mathematical biology. Prof. Kon
the Electro-Optical Sciences Lab ing theorists, economists and as- stantin Scharenberg is in neuro
has in fact proved a tempest in a sorted interdisciplinary types on pathology; Prof. Merrill Flood i
teapot within the IST organiza- the staff. It was one of the Uni- another mathematical biologis
tion, as Prof. George W. Stroke, versity's great bargains. and Prof. Ralph Gerard is i
its head, almost had a large part Stimulus neurophysiology.
of the University's research appa- Even more important than ISR's Prof. McConnell has incense
ratus in orbit before he was final- own research has been the stim- many psychologists with his well
ly shifted to the electrical engi- ulus it has provided to other parts publicized studies of planaria, an
neering department and settled of the University. The people and Prof. Richard Meier studies
down with some generous research work there have proved to be a among other things, communica
grants. powerful attraction to draw in tions systems in cities and hold
The other part of IST is the new programs in social science down an appointment in the con
Great Lakes Research Division- fields, along with excellent fae4 servation department in the nat
which existed long before IST and ulty anxious to be a part of the ural resources school.
still has a life of its own-and the "critical mass" of talent that Staff-60
Willow Run Laboratories. comprises ISR. The economics Altogether the academic staf
Willow Run and psychology departments have with PhD's numbers about 60
The Willow Run Labs were certainly benefitted, while the Research at MHRI delves int
added on to IST in 1960, in hopes
of some sort of mutual benefit
which hasn't really materialized
yet, though there are still hopes.
Willow Run work is very defense
oriented and is usually classified.
There is a minimum of relation-
ships with either faculty or stu- THE M ICHIG
dents from the University, most
of the work being done by pro-
fessional researchers.
The Institute for Social Re-
search is probably the most spec-
tacularly successful of the inter-
disciplinary operations. However,
this very success must be troubl-
ing to administrators because of
the unlikelihood of duplicating
within the University the con-
ditions that have made IRS pos-
sible.
This institute is a product of
the labor and genius of Rensis & '
Likert, its director, who founded ;'

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