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National Research Council (US) Chemical Sciences Roundtable. Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences: Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2000.

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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences: Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop.

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7Keeping an Eye to the Future in Designing Graduate Programs

Marye Anne Fox

North Carolina State University

This chapter discusses several issues relevant to graduate education: why the federal government supports universities to conduct most basic science; how advances in information technology may affect how science is conducted; what methods ought to be considered for supporting graduate students; why research scientists incur special obligations to K-12 education as a result of the covenant with the nation; and finally, how positive the interactions between universities and private industry can be as a model for future scientific collaborations.


As many of you are aware, both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council have an abiding interest both in the quality of scientific education and in how graduate education is successfully integrated with research in our universities. I currently serve on two committees that focus on these issues, the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) and the Committee on Undergraduate Science Education (CUSE), the second of which I chair. Both are conducting projects relevant to the issues being discussed today.

Several years ago, for example, COSEPUP produced a report that addressed the need for reshaping graduate education for scientists and engineers.1 A concurrent report first suggested that the United States must be among the leaders, although not necessarily the undisputed world leader, in every major field of science.2 These reports emphasized not only the importance of maintaining leadership across core disciplines, but also the need to be in a position to address interdisciplinary challenges across the entire range of human need. The latter report says that the United States must be “poised to pounce” on opportunities, whether they are initially developed here or elsewhere.

Because graduate education in the United States is intimately intertwined with basic research, national goals must include both the research objectives and the education of students within the same framework. Much of the work of CUSE seeks to leverage the quality of learning achieved by the faculty-graduate student collaboration into improved instructional opportunities at the undergraduate level. A recent publication by CUSE emphasizes the need for including the same techniques used so profitably in graduate education in the experiential learning of our best undergraduate programs.3

The COSEPUP report also emphasized the importance of producing well-educated Americans, people who understand the goals and achievements of science and the scientific reasoning that leads to those results. We need people who can conduct sophisticated scientific investigations, of course, but we also need those who are active in nonscientific roles in our society, especially those working in public policy, in the law, or as leaders in their communities to appreciate science. The reshaping of graduate education in science is therefore important both for the specialist and the nonspecialist, and being able to address both constituencies is an important part of academia's responsibility to our nation.


Graduate education was not always so generously funded in the United States. Before World War II very little federal money was allocated to science in universities. It was the realization of the important contributions of science to the war effort and to the improved quality of life after the war that led to the model under which nearly all of us here today were trained. The portfolio for scientific research support has changed substantially over the last 50 years. Of course, in the early 1950s, defense was a national priority, and that emphasis continued for nearly 50 years as the Cold War was waged. But during that period, a gradual decrease in the fraction of federal support allocated to defense research was accompanied by increased payments to individuals. Beyond the support needed for national defense and mandated social payments, the discretionary portion of the federal budget is a smaller fraction of the total budget.

The same profile change over time also can be seen in the evolving budgets of federal agencies. Support for basic research from the Department of Defense has contracted while that related to human health, especially through the National Institutes of Health, has expanded. Support for fundamental science has always been a significant, but small, portion of the net federal investment.

This monetary shift is also reflected in a change in disciplinary emphasis over the same period. In 1950, engineering accounted for a large fraction of the research and development (R&D) budget, a situation that has shifted toward the life sciences over the years. The breadth of the portfolio has always reflected a cooperation between those who conduct basic research, mainly at our universities, and the federal government, while always addressing the most pressing problems faced by our society.


It is important to note that, despite these shifts in the nature of the work supported, the assumption that basic research would be conducted mainly at universities has been unwavering. Basic research, focusing on understanding the fundamental principles governing nature, is well aligned in the United States with higher education's principal objectives, namely, educating our students in the sciences at a level appropriate to either the scientist or the educated public. And, of course, with that opportunity comes a serious responsibility: we must accept the obligation to provide the kind of education to all interested citizens that will enable our nation (and all of her citizens) to continue to prosper. Part of the commitment made by universities in accepting support for our advanced students is that we provide the background that will prepare our graduate students to innovate in science, while contributing significantly to the education of our nonscience-major undergraduates.

In accepting these conditions as inherent in the government-university partnership, we together face certain challenges. For one, we have an obligation to provide an educated cadre who can effectively use their education to address emerging opportunities. That means neither overproducing nor under-producing highly specialized graduate-level scientists. It means not buying into a model that leads to unlimited expansion of individual disciplines, but rather encouraging teamwork in addressing socially important problems. David Goodstein, for example, reminds us that had the exponential growth in the number of physicists that took place in the 1960s continued to the present, we would now be a nation in which every citizen would hold a Ph.D. in physics. I count many physicists as among my best friends, but I must say that a nation of only physicists (or chemists, for that matter) would be a rather dull society. By including sufficient breadth within our graduate programs, we can be assured that those emerging will have the confidence to address problems not strictly confined to their own disciplines.


Surveys of American opinion indicate that scientists rank among the most highly respected professionals in the United States. But if the question is posed another way, another view emerges as well, namely, that scientists often behave as a special interest group. What are the characteristics of such a group? A special interest group resists change; it seeks additional resources as a cure for its own internal stresses; it attempts to demonstrate that members of its group deserve special treatment; it assigns its own values primacy in influencing decisions and allocations; and it claims moral superiority and privilege for its own activities. Often when we think about lobbyists, we think about big oil, big tobacco, big whatever. We should recognize that many people in this country regard big science in exactly the same category.

There is also uncertainty about whether our research, and the technology that follows from it, really does improve the quality of life. For example, the demonstrators in Seattle at the World Trade Organization meeting voiced clear concerns that technological advances are not always good. Despite our dismay that so few realize that the productivity enhancements driven by technology underlie the incredible generation of wealth over the last decade, incidents like this call into question whether we have adequately educated our nonscience majors.

Clearly, if scientists are regarded both as special interest groups and as among the most respected professionals, there is a gulf in understanding by the average American about what we do. Some, in fact, perceive us as sometimes doing pointless and trivial research. This dichotomy clearly indicates the need to communicate better with the public, especially through the representatives of the public with whom we work most closely at universities—our alumni, our students, and their parents.


What is there about the university that responds to universal human needs? What can we provide that conveys enduring value? How can we articulate a vision for an educated American citizenry? How can we ensure the integrity of our basic research effort and still provide access and opportunity to the entire range of our talented citizens? In articulating such a vision, it is useful to recall an old admonition from Hippocrates: “First, do no harm.” Thus, in thinking about broad changes in the delivery of graduate education, we must be thoughtful, patient, and deliberative.

Four years ago, the National Science Board undertook a consideration of the relative merits and deficiencies of several means for providing support for graduate education.4 We focused then on fellowships, graduate research assistantships, and traineeships. For some time graduate fellowships have been a valuable resource whereby those students judged to have the greatest potential for leadership in scientific research were identified and provided with tuition and salary support. The resulting fellowship program has produced a concentration of talented students, who in practice have chosen to pursue their degrees at a very small number of institutions. In fact, a large majority of those supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowships since the 1970s have matriculated at no more than five institutions.

One can imagine expanding the number of fellowships so that a better geographic distribution could be achieved, perhaps by allocating some fixed number to institutions that would then choose the fellowship recipients from among their own students. If we were to do so, we would, in fact, begin to contribute to building centers of excellence, geographically distributed. Such a program would also encourage domestic students to pursue advanced degrees, by providing them with secure financial support. A fellowship program would motivate students by providing personal recognition and by inspiring confidence in our most talented students in their ability to achieve within science. In addition, a program of such fellowships would relieve faculty at least partially of some responsibility for providing financial support for their students as they pursue their graduate degrees.

But with these positive features also come some concerns. In shifting to a mode in which graduate fellowships would become the primary means of supporting students, the federal contribution toward infrastructure would be seriously reduced, to the detriment of productive programs. Graduate fellowships now provide support for the student but for none of the direct costs of the research, e.g., for supplies or expendable equipment, none of the cost of state-of-the-art instrumentation, and none of the indirect costs that underwrite the university's support of the program. That could be changed, of course, but such a shift would cause major financial dislocations and would change the dynamics for strategic planning within departments and colleges.

Graduate fellowships have, in the past, produced not only a skewed geographic distribution but also a distorted demographic group. In particular, women and minorities have been underrepresented among awardees when the criteria for selection have emphasized undergraduate GPA and GRE scores. This fellowship program in many ways has faced the same challenges in achieving a diverse student population as do university undergraduate admissions procedures that emphasize high school GPA and SAT scores.

It is interesting, as an aside, to observe that there is a far better correlation between the successful completion of an undergraduate degree in science and a high school curriculum containing at least two years of a foreign language and four years of mathematics, than there is with SAT scores. Yet many universities still persist in using SAT scores as a major predictor of academic success, thereby in at least some cases disadvantaging several groups in the competition for admission and for scholarship support.

In some fields, fellowships have actually been shown to prolong the time required to complete the degree, presumably because fellowship recipients lack the financial incentive to connect early in their graduate studies with a specific research group. As a result, some fellows experience weaker mentoring than would those supported on graduate research assistantships. Fellowships may also affect the quality of undergraduate instruction, by removing the best and brightest from the ranks of teaching assistants, thus depriving undergraduate students of access to the purportedly best graduate students, and denying these strong graduate students the opportunity to experience teaching at an early stage of their careers. If many, or most, domestic students were supported as fellows, a larger fraction of the teaching assistants would likely be foreign students, for whom English fluency may be a challenge. Fellowships could also cause problems in collegiality among students if they were to distort reality for some students who, like the athlete being recruited in the seventh grade, form an unrealistically positive view of their abilities.

Contrast the fellowship model with the way most graduate students are currently supported now, i.e., as graduate research assistants. Graduate research assistantships have many positive features. First, the support underlying these assistantships has been awarded to a principal investigator on the basis of a peer-reviewed proposal, meaning that the work the student will conduct is likely to be important and judged as feasible by senior scientists. The environment for conducting the work is also likely to be supportive, and the track record for the principal investigator in successfully mentoring students is likely to be strong. Because the supervisor has a vested interest in the proposed work, he or she is likely to closely monitor the progress of the student and to help him or her achieve as much as possible in as short a period as possible. Because peer-reviewed proposals are geographically distributed better than fellowships have been in the past, a focus on research assistantships would likely benefit more institutions better distributed around the country. Because mentoring by the supervising professor is aligned with the professor's self-interest, there is no need to provide additional motivation to improve the quality of graduate education.

It is true, however, that graduate research assistantships demand less creativity and intellectual independence on the part of the student. For those who are exceptionally well prepared for independent research, this can be a problem, but in my experience a large majority of first- and second-year graduate students are not yet ready for the full intellectual independence necessary to solve a significant scientific problem of their own choosing. Because the intellectual thrust of the work conducted by graduate research assistants is determined by the supervisor, there may be less personal recognition and motivation toward successful completion of the work, although the lessons learned in teamwork at an early stage of investigation may mitigate against this potential problem.

Like fellowships, graduate assistantships typically cover the costs of tuition and fees, as well as the costs of infrastructure at the sponsoring institution. Because tuition expenses can be substantial, the flexibility in a research grant can sometimes motivate faculty to take on more-qualified postdoctoral fellows rather than less-prepared graduate students, possibly to the detriment of the goals of the graduate program.

A third option for supporting graduate students is traineeships. These differ from assistantships in that the traineeship provides student support as part of a funded group project, again after peer review has established the merit of the proposed work. In a traineeship, cooperation is, by definition, strongly enhanced, and in many cases, the projects supported are highly interdisciplinary or focused on emerging new areas. Traineeships therefore can build departmental programs and camaraderie and encourage individuals involved in the collaboration to take risks in their experimental approaches more frequently than is typical with an individual research grant. Traineeships also provide a mechanism by which faculty who are between grants might access a bridge for continuity in their research programs. With competitively reviewed research traineeships, there is also likely to be a broad geographic distribution of awards.

The success of traineeships, however, depends strongly on the effectiveness of local management. The trainee director must be rigorous in enforcing high standards for all faculty participants and must be willing to cut those parts of the collaboration that prove to be unproductive. Looser quality control in the absence of such strong management has been problematic in some programs. In addition, traineeships may provide weaker mentoring in that a supervisor may believe the student is being guided by other members of the group and not feel responsibility to closely monitor student progress.

Research in the United States is more and more frequently conducted by postdoctoral fellows, and the number and length of these fellowships are increasing. Postdoctoral fellowships have thus become an increasingly routine part of the research portfolio of universities. Because of the costs associated with tuition for graduate students, many supervisors prefer to work with postdoctoral fellows.

These fellowships unfortunately sometimes involve a prolonged period in which intellectual dependence on the research group is sustained. I loved my postdoctoral position, providing as it did the freedom to explore science unencumbered by the obligations to raise money and participate in endless committee assignments that typify academic life. But many postdoctoral fellows have rather ambiguous employment status, with some universities being conflicted about whether postdoctoral fellows are employees or students and whether they are entitled to normal employee benefits.

The conclusions reached by the National Science Board (NSB) in weighing these competing factors were that it would be dangerous to shift precipitously from the distribution of the current modes of graduate funding. Diversity in these funding mechanisms is as characteristic of the American enterprise as is the ethnic and demographic diversity that we seek.

Instead, the NSB report encouraged experimentation: traineeships for programs that encourage breadth and focus on interdisciplinary research; fellowships for some professional master's degrees; expansion of the fields for which fellowships are awarded to include nontraditional disciplines and emerging cross-disciplinary areas, perhaps supporting students who have advanced to candidacy in one discipline and wish to use their disciplinary skills to solve a scientific problem in another discipline; and fellowships that support scholarly work undertaken in industry.


The NSB report also suggested that demographic diversity, measured by full participation of all groups, should be one of the goals of any expanded fellowship program. This is a very important recommendation. We are now at a stage in graduate education in which we are attracting far too few American citizens into graduate programs, particularly in engineering. There are many reasons for this problem, but one of the most obvious is that we fail to graduate enough Americans in the sciences from our undergraduate programs. This is especially true for women and underrepresented groups, particularly racial and ethnic minorities.

Why are minorities not graduating from undergraduate programs? Probably because they are not enrolling in undergraduate programs in sufficient numbers, or possibly because they are not prepared to succeed in these fields at the college level. There is a differential quality of teacher preparation in the precollege years across socioeconomic classes in this country. In public high schools that have fewer than 25 percent of their students taking advantage of school lunch programs—these are the most affluent of our public schools—6 percent of the teachers are uncertified in their disciplines. Science and math classes now constitute about 20 percent of courses offered in high school, and science and math represent the fields in which most of the uncertified teachers are found. Therefore, even in our most affluent schools, we can estimate roughly that 6 of 20, or roughly 30 percent, of the science and mathematics teachers are teaching outside an area for which they are prepared.

If that is not bad enough, consider those schools in which 75 percent or more of the students receive school lunches. There, 19 percent of the teachers are uncertified in the disciplines they are teaching, and if again, these teachers are assumed to be concentrated in science and math, one can estimate that 19 of 20 or 95 percent of the science and math teachers in public schools serving a poor clientele are not certified. Teacher qualification has been shown to be a major factor in the quality of learning, so one can easily imagine poor students being exposed to one, two, three, or more such teachers during the course of their high school years. Is it any surprise that students who emerge from these schools, which disproportionately include racial minorities and other underrepresented groups, are not prepared to compete on a level playing field with respect to SAT scores? If our less-affluent students are not prepared in high school, they cannot compete successfully in most undergraduate programs. And if they do not complete undergraduate programs, how can we expect them to be ready for graduate work?


Those of us who worry about graduate education must assume responsibility for improving the public schools if we are to succeed at higher levels. We cannot say this is someone else's problem. We cannot say this is the fault of the teachers, who are heroically providing their best efforts in the schools. Such an accusation would be totally inappropriate. But how many of us in the scientific community have worked with those involved in teacher training in our own universities? How many of us have encouraged our bright undergraduates who are finishing degrees in chemistry or physics or biology to even consider teaching as a career? How many of us have spoken positively to our own graduate students about considering a career in K-12 teaching?

This nation is near a crisis in elementary and secondary education. By 2010, we need two million more teachers because of anticipated retirements and the ballooning numbers of students who are already in school in the lower grades. Most of the students now enrolled in the second grade are likely to be high school seniors in 10 years, and there are 25 percent more of them now than there were 10 years ago. In my own state, North Carolina, there is a need for 80,000 more teachers over this period, and the need at the high school level is most acute in science and mathematics. The rate at which teachers are being produced by public universities in North Carolina, however, would suggest a very optimistic figure of 10,000 teachers being produced during this period.

So where are these teachers going to come from? How can we solve this problem if we do not take charge and provide positive reinforcement and incentives to consider teaching during the undergraduate years? I would encourage each of us to think about ways in which alternative certification can be accessed so that those who may have an interest in K-12 teaching have the support, moral and financial, that they need to succeed.

Let me describe one program we have initiated at North Carolina State University. It is a double magnet school to be run on our Centennial Campus (our collaborative research area) in collaboration with the local public schools. It is being constructed on our land, with students coming from every school in Wake County. The recruited students will be exposed to the best methods for teaching science and mathematics, and the admissions procedures will target talented young girls and racial minorities.

The school is also expected to draw teachers from around the state, who will learn about inquiry-based instruction and will acquire a better appreciation for the means by which students can learn more about careers in science and mathematics. Social scientists tell us that most students decide, perhaps unconsciously, during the middle school years whether they will turn toward or away from mathematics, and hence opportunities in science. A discouraging environment at that stage has been shown to turn girls away from science, and you can imagine that this discouragement would be even worse if these same students then proceed to high schools staffed by inadequately prepared teachers.

So I believe each of us, in thinking about graduate education, has a personal obligation, also to think hard about the quality of teacher training programs at our home institutions. It is, of course, quite positive to encourage our students, both graduate and undergraduate, to volunteer in K-12 classes, and I applaud those of you who today mentioned such collaborations. But our schools need more than that. It is positive to visit the local schools and to express your willingness to help. I did that several weeks ago during Teach for America week. My husband and I went to a rural school in North Carolina that had been ravaged by floods, and we taught a class about excited states—how to make a neon lamp and how it works. It was great fun and the students seemed to enjoy it.

But I have no delusions that I changed anyone's perceptions about science. A one-hour commitment is not what I am talking about. I am talking about devising means by which we can provide real assistance to these hard-working, often isolated, teachers, about helping to develop the kind of in-service training program they need. Without such intervention, our country will never develop the human resources it needs to remain among the leaders in science.

We need diversity that transcends race. We need diversity that transcends socioeconomic class. We need diversity that transcends gender. We need diversity that transcends the site at which education takes place, both urban and rural. One way we can help to attain this is to develop methods for using information technology for distant delivery of content.


Universities are at the forefront in developing the tools that can provide long-distance mentoring as well as unprecedented access to information and knowledge. The challenge will be to develop techniques that can be used in different settings for different purposes. As technology changes, the incentives to become a scientist will be different. The usefulness of the Ph.D. experience may change; the basic research portfolio certainly will change; the sequence and incentives for responding to social needs will change; but the values of our science will persist. It is clear that universities will have to step up to the plate to fulfill the potential of the Internet.

How to address this evolving technology is a major question. Eli Noam, a professor at Columbia University, has stated, for example, that many of the current “mega-universities” are not sustainable, at least not in their current duplicative variants. Ten years from now, he suggests, a significant fraction of higher education will be offered electronically by for-profit suppliers. The significant question is whether the Internet can provide the integrated education that is characteristic of our best colleges and universities, or whether it best conveys narrowly defined training skills for specific immediate career needs.

Lest we all assume that within the next decade parents will routinely send their sons and daughters to their rooms for four years to be educated by distance learning, we should remember that Thomas Edison claimed in 1877 that the motion picture was “destined to revolutionize our educational system” and he expected that within a few years it would “supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks.”

However, if we accept Internet suppliers as potential competitors for supplying at least some of the nation's needs for advanced education, we will have to state clearly what universities can uniquely provide.


Apart from developing worthwhile programs that use the Internet, we should also think about ways that will encourage undergraduates to consider science and math careers. It is widely known that one of the most effective ways to stimulate undergraduates to continue in science and mathematics is a successful experience in undergraduate research. Why is that? It is very simple. In participating in research, the student develops a close mentoring relationship with the supervisor while simultaneously participating in inquiry-based learning. This gives him or her the power and self-confidence needed to succeed in these fields.

Let me conduct an informal poll. How many of you participated in undergraduate research? [Nearly everyone in the audience raised a hand.] Look at this. Please turn around and look at this. Undergraduate research was obviously important to this group. But how many of our institutions, as a criterion for tenure or promotion, even ask for faculty to describe their participation, or lack thereof, in undergraduate research as part of their dossiers?

If you were to suggest, at your home institution, that a worthwhile goal would be that 10 percent of your undergraduate students have a significant research experience as part of their degree work, and if you were to actively target women and underrepresented groups as part of that 10 percent, I can guarantee you that there would be a complete turnaround in the success of graduate schools in attracting American students anxious to pursue the opportunities that follow from that experience.


One way to provide that experience to an even larger fraction of our undergraduates is to collaborate with industry. The resource allocation from industry to build a cadre of active undergraduate researchers would be a win-win situation for industry and for the universities. And yet, very few of such collaborations have been formalized as undergraduate options for independent study.

The need to collaborate with industry is becoming even more compelling as federal funding outside the life sciences continues to be cut back. Public-private partnerships can address problems that are relevant and are inherently interdisciplinary. Yet relatively few such investments are being made, with typically far less than 10 percent of sponsored research on most university campuses being accomplished with industrial support.

What has caused our major industries to pull back from significant financial commitments to the universities? Clearly, the implicit assumption that such research will be funded by the federal government plays some role. In addition, some have suggested that because the results of basic research are freely published and shared broadly, rewards cannot be captured by the investor—hence, the recent evolution of more private-sector consortia to provide sponsorship and collaboration for basic research questions that underlie broad industrially relevant topics.

Although reduction to practice for key new technologies is sometimes impeded by the reduced availability of capital in tight times, basic research almost always involves the underpinning of the next generation of technologies rather than those closest to commercialization. When these challenges to developing collaborations are coupled to the rapid pace of knowledge exchange made possible through advances in information technology, industry faces a substantial challenge.

Why are these collaborations important? Unless we are able to establish workable relationships with industry, many fields, probably including chemistry, will be unable to contribute adequately to solving the social needs of Americans in the 21st century. Several things must be in place for a public-private partnership to succeed. First, you must have educated people who are driven to succeed despite obstacles and who have a firm commitment to success for themselves, their colleagues, and their communities. You must have faculty interest in and an openness to the proposed collaborations. You must have adequate facilities, which means the university must acquire land, construct buildings, and assume indebtedness for periods that exceed typical research contracts. And you must have serious partners in the venture capital community who can provide the resources to translate joint intellectual achievements into commercial successes.

It is also important that universities be flexible in handling intellectual property. Technology transfer is a contact sport, and a clear relationship must exist between the collaborative activities and those that take place on campus. These activities must be integrated smoothly into the scholarly work and reward structure of the university.

There are, of course, difficulties in doing anything new. There will be system inertia at every stage, but I am proud to say that North Carolina State University is almost unique in this country in solving each of these problems. NC State is a land-grant institution, and during its centennial year 13 years ago, it was given another land grant, a thousand acres of land in the center of Raleigh, the state capital. This land has been allocated to stimulating these partnerships while building the academic mission of the university.

There are now 54 companies that have located on the Centennial Campus. Each of these partners has pledged to conduct co-located research with one or more of our faculty, or to provide internships, co-ops, graduate fellowships, and/or research contracts. These companies range from start-ups located in our business incubator, with two or three employees, to major international corporations such as Lucent Technologies, which has chosen to move its optical networking group with 500 graduate-level employees onto our campus.

Accompanying these decisions has been an increased royalty stream that has doubled over just 2 years and an increased number of research contracts with other industrial firms anxious to tap the academic expertise of our faculty. Every day, NC State has new resources that can be reinvested in our faculty and their programs.

On the Centennial Campus, there are six research neighborhoods, each addressing a significant problem for the people of North Carolina in the areas of information technology and networking, materials science, environmental sustainability, genomic science and bioinformatics, globalization and public policy, and K-12 education. I would suggest that these six areas should be represented in each of your own stock portfolios, as they represent the future. We are proud to have established so many wide-ranging collaborations in a way that also preserves the integrity of our basic research. To the largest degree possible, we avoid conflict of interest and of commitment, but remain flexible in dealing with intellectual property. As a result, we have a unique array of public-private partnerships that both stimulate our research creativity and provide support for graduate students.

So I would invite those of you who find your way to Raleigh to make time for a visit to our Centennial Campus. It is not a research development. It is a research collaboration in which, together with private-sector partners, we have built a town—a technopolis, some say—in which the entire team focuses on the future. The basic research conducted by the university faculty is complemented by the applied research by our partners. The result is a proactive translation of technology into value for our industrial partners and a new model for top-quality collaborative research as a key option for our graduate students.


Rather than providing a summary of this talk, I'd like to suggest several homework assignments. First, please commit to explaining to your colleagues who wish to maintain support of their graduate programs how important it is to emphasize the integration of education into research and how vital it is to explain the purposes of their research to the general public. Perhaps this means giving a talk on science at your local PTA or Rotary Club. Second, please examine the research efforts of your own students and critically ask whether they are ready to work outside their specializations. Ask yourself whether you have generally resisted student initiatives to broaden their graduate experiences if it removed them from their concentration on lab research. Third, go to lunch with your colleagues who are involved in teacher education and ask them how you, as a research scientist, can help them. Fourth, take one more undergraduate student into your research group. And finally, visit one of your local industrial colleagues about the possibility of co-sponsoring a student research project.

Do remember that one individual can make a difference!


David Bergbreiter, Texas A&M University: Marye Anne, given that you have come from a state that supports research through the Advanced Technology Program and Advanced Research Program, which you are familiar with and I believe got money from, what do you think of the importance of state support of research at universities and the likelihood that other states will adopt the model that has been used in Texas?

Marye Anne Fox: The Texas initiative has two programs: an advanced research program and an advanced technology program. While I served on the Governor's Science and Technology Council, I argued for a 50 percent increase in base funding for both programs. Did you get that after I left?

David Bergbreiter, Texas A&M University: No, it is still pending.

Marye Anne Fox: Even without an increase, the program has made a huge difference in the ability of institutions, both public and private, in the state of Texas to respond to new partnership opportunities. I would say it is very important. North Carolina is far behind Texas in this particular form of investment in its universities.

Soni Oyekan, Marathon Ashland Petroleum: I am pleased to hear about a double magnet school that your university is managing. That may be one of the models for the future for helping underrepresented minorities. I have a suspicion that, for us to deal with the issues of underrepresented minorities in the chemical sciences, the universities may have to play more active roles in helping with the high school and grade school education of prospective students. I would suggest that one type of school that we would have to establish would be a boarding or preparatory school where the students are isolated for some periods from their neighborhoods so that the institutions can share intimately in the upbringing of the students. These boarding or preparatory live-in schools would provide environments for an escape from urban blight and its constant dangers for youths. They would keep the students from an abundance of poor role models in the urban streets. The boarding or preparatory schools would allow these youths to flourish in settings more conducive to their education.

Marye Anne Fox: I could not agree with you more about the importance of intervention in the middle school years to encourage interest in science and mathematics. We are delighted to have a chance to work with the public schools to do just that on our Centennial Campus, which is nonresidential. In North Carolina, a superb residential magnet school, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, has been a stunning success, particularly in recruiting African-American students to science and engineering. Whether a large fraction of poor students can ever be accommodated in a residential environment is quite a challenge. Part of the problem that universities face in building a diverse student body is the court orders that impose constraints on set-aside programs. These have made it very difficult or impossible for us to have preferences or set-asides for those populations that we want to grow in order to have a broad distribution and diversity of students. In a way, I think universities were lazy in relying on set-aside programs and now, not having them available, we must be more active in promoting student interest in science and math across cultural, racial, and gender boundaries. I am pleased that North Carolina, in particular, has stepped forward to do that.

Mark Banaszak-Holl, University of Michigan: It is very exciting that you are chancellor at NC State. I was delighted to see a chemist rise to that kind of position. I am wondering if you would tell us what concrete steps you have taken in your first year to improve the reward system for faculty and graduate students at NC State to improve graduate training in the chemical sciences?

Marye Anne Fox: In the first year, we have talked about a vision at NC State. The first vision was building a diverse community that involved both demographic diversity and intellectual diversity. With respect to demographic diversity, we started a program of Chancellor's Leadership Awards, in which a quarter of a million dollars was set aside for those students who could demonstrate both financial need and a particular leadership, aimed at bringing a diverse student body to NC State University.

We have completed a capital campaign of $115 million over a target of $80 million, which is to be used for merit-based scholarships, and are seeking through new legislation about half a million dollars for support of undergraduate research. We have stimulated interdisciplinary activities by providing seed support and space, about 200,000 square feet for the six initiatives, for faculty from several colleges to work together on the Centennial Campus. We started a program that I call compact planning, which devolves decision making back to the department. In other words, what every department has been called on to do is to set goals and to accept some assessment measure that will guide the department in marching toward those goals. We have also revised the tenure and promotion procedures to enhance the importance of teaching as part of promotion. It was always true that teaching was important, but it was not the perception of the faculty that it was. I am sure that this is true at NC State, as I went through the promotion process last year with every file, and it was true at the University of Texas as well. People don't believe—this is a problem about which I would like to get some feedback—faculty don't believe that administrators are looking seriously at the quality of teaching. Because we do. We look at it very seriously.

John T. Yates, Jr., University of Pittsburgh: Your thesis extends all the way back to K-12 in analyzing the problems of graduate education in this country. I have had many connections with European graduate students and undergraduates the last few years and cannot but be impressed by the way Europeans are trained—the seriousness of purpose in high school compared to what we see in this country. Do you have any thoughts about how we might emulate the things that are happening in Europe?

Marye Anne Fox: I can say anecdotally that I have seen the same thing. A couple of years ago I lectured in East Germany before the Wall came down. The lecture, given to eighth graders, covered exactly the same material I was covering then with sophomores at the University of Texas.

There is rigor and discipline in European education that seems to be rare in U.S. high schools, and I think those are necessary qualities. But, as I noted earlier, the quality of students and how students respond are different now than in the past. Interaction with technology has changed the way our students respond, and I think that is coming to Europe as well. Globalization does not happen just economically to the textile industry or the chemical industry. It happens at every level. More and more we are going to have to develop some of the same skills that Europeans do. In particular, language fluency is something that I think will become increasingly important for our students.

Dale Poulter, University of Utah: The problem of a lack of qualified science teachers is a tremendous problem nationwide, yet there is a pool of people. This pool includes retired people and chemistry students who, late in their careers as undergraduates, decide that they might like to teach. Last week, one of my students decided not to go into teaching because of the extra two years or so it would take for teacher certification. Do you have any experience in ways to cut this knot? This is really a problem.

Marye Anne Fox: There are many people who would be interested in teaching but are unwilling to spend the additional substantial time necessary to become certified. There are several approaches we can take as a society. One is to work with the states to adopt reasonable alternate certification procedures in which the pedagogical component can be shrunk to a more reasonable level, perhaps allowing for structured supervised teaching as a substitute for education courses. It could also be accomplished by having in-class mentoring in the schools. We have a program in North Carolina called North Carolina Teach, for which state resources are made available to allow people to come from another career into the schools. It is interesting that the majority of professionals enrolling in the NC Teach Program are attorneys. Some say that they can't stand some aspects of the profession and want to get out at any cost. I wonder if that will hold up, but at least that is the original observation.

I would also draw your attention to a program that I think is a good one at the University of Texas, where it is possible to get teaching certification and a chemistry degree—and I believe this applies to physics and biology, too—within 4 years. A student must decide by the end of the sophomore year to pursue that. It would also be useful for university administrations across the country to have a fundraising program in collaboration with the state government so that funds would be available to cover the additional expenses for staying on beyond a degree to get certification, perhaps with a payback period that could be reduced for years in service. I am working to do that in North Carolina but have not yet succeeded.

Stanley Pine, California State University, Los Angeles: Since you are connected to the National Science Board, I am asking if you can enlighten us about the rumors that there may be a new division or an expansion of higher education (I'm not sure which) in the education activities of NSF. How might that impinge on what we are doing, and how can we, as a group, help it go in a direction that we think would be good?

Marye Anne Fox: I have been off the National Science Board for 3 years, so I can't answer your question. Your information is probably more accurate than mine.

Steven Chuang, University of Akron: I wonder how we can articulate to high school students that the chemical sciences can produce more value than computer science, especially when you see that the Dow Jones dropped Chevron and Goodyear in their index?

Marye Anne Fox: How can we convince students to come into the chemical sciences when we have much stronger performance on the stock market from the dot coms and the initial public offerings and computer science than from chemistry? That is a good question. I have a lot of students in North Carolina who, after taking one course in computer science, are making a lot of money, a situation that is actually slowing down their graduation rate. An additional problem beyond what you have raised is that students are becoming less enamored of the need for credentials for them to succeed, particularly in the information technology networking arena. There will, however, always be a need for chemical scientists. In fact, chemical scientists undergird a great deal of the manufacturing strength of this country. So, while I cannot explain the stock market behavior, I think that the intellectual challenge of chemistry, its central position between biology and physics, and the fact that it will always be part of the nation's economic life have enduring value beyond the immediate creation of wealth.

Peter K. Dorhout, Colorado State University: One of the things that has come up this evening is how can we affect K-12 education. You mentioned outreach programs, many of which involve going to the schools and doing demonstrations. I think there are many other creative opportunities for having an effect in K-12 education. In the Colorado sector of the ACS, we are starting to have tutorials for K-12 teachers, not as a way of insulting their intelligence, but rather to say that if they believe they are in an area of need for polymer chemistry, or of pigmentation, or any other aspect of chemistry, we are going to have a tutorial about a particular area on a given set of days, times, and locations. These tutorials provide opportunities for teachers to ask questions and to learn about a particular area of their need. I think that is one other way we can reach out to K-12 teachers and tell them that we understand that many of them were French or English majors in college. This gives them a way to learn chemistry.

Marye Anne Fox: Peter's point is an elaboration of what I tried to mention earlier. While I think it is good for us individually and for our graduate students to have a presence in the schools, our more enduring value to the schools is as an intellectual resource. Whether that is by providing advice, seminars, or summer workshops, we have to be active and also respectful of these incredibly dedicated men and women who staff our schools. They are the backbone of our educational system and are vastly underappreciated, financially as well an intellectually.

Nicholas Snow, Seton Hall University: Throughout this meeting today, which has been outstanding, we have been discussing graduate education into the 21st century mostly at very large institutions. What do you envision as the position in the 21st century of some of the faculty at smaller research institutions and the comprehensive institutions that participate in graduate education, but perhaps not quite at the high funding and resource level of the large institutions?

Marye Anne Fox: The question has to do with the future of higher education institutions other than research-intensive universities and how they can contribute to the general development of knowledge and quality graduate education. I think the answer is likely to lie in partnerships with research-intensive universities as a means of providing equipment needed for frontier research, while simultaneously leveraging the intellectual contributions of faculty at smaller institutions. In North Carolina we have many strong collaborations with other sister institutions. And we have, as well, through some of our venture capital funds, strong connections with some of the private institutions like the ones you are mentioning. We have, for example, a start-up company in the incubator on our Centennial Campus, which is a joint partnership between NC State and Wake Forest University. It is a very effective and leveraged method by which we can both participate effectively.

Angelica Stacy, University of California, Berkeley: I have to come to the defense of my high school colleagues. Nothing is going to change until we respect them as professionals. They have a lot to offer. They have many ideas, but no time. They are in contact with students every hour of the day. There are no longer in-service days or professional days in many states. High school teachers know what they would like to do, but they have no time to do it. Yet we treat them as if we need to go and help them. In fact, I think we have much to learn from them. Until we come to the table with our high school colleagues, acknowledging them as the high-level professionals that they are, things are not going to change.

Marye Anne Fox: I hope everyone could hear Angie Stacy's statement because it is a very important one. We must be open to learning in our collaborations with teachers. Attitude is everything if we are to succeed in this important collaboration. University faculty also have an obligation to help with respect to the stream of teachers going into the schools. That is, for those prospective teachers who are still with us, we have an obligation to provide options for them so that they can be trained effectively as they go forward. We should be available to them rather than saying that we have the answers and they don't.

Angelica Stacy: And they could be available to us because they know about teaching and learning and students and diversity.

Marye Anne Fox: Absolutely.

Craig Merlic, University of California, Los Angeles: You mentioned the need for about 80,000 teachers in North Carolina. In the state of California the need is probably an order of magnitude larger. Dale Poulter had a comment on how to couple training and getting students into the pipeline for high school teaching. At UCLA we created a program in the math department that is a joint degree, a 5-year program, leading to a B.S. degree in mathematics and teaching certification. By this method we are getting people into the program early, and coupling it simplifies the process. They don't have to have a separate 2-year program. We are thinking of creating the same thing in chemistry.

Marye Anne Fox: That is a great idea. You need to work closely with schools of education and with the state certification people.

Robert L. Lichter, The Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation: The discussion tonight touched only peripherally on that specific issue. What that points to is the seamless nature of the entire educational process, something that most, if not all, of us understand. It is important to continue to emphasize that we are always engaged in education and learning, and have to engage others in them continuously.



National Research Council, Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1995).


National Research Council, Science, Technology, and the Federal Government: National Goals for a New Era (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1993).


National Research Council, Science Teaching Reconsidered: A Handbook (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1997).


National Science Board, The Federal Role in Science and Engineering Graduate and Postdoctoral Education (Arlington, Va.: National Science Foundation, 1998).

Copyright © 2000, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK44903


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