Letter from Robert B. Gagosian, President and Director
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Bob Gagosian, right, with Jim Moltz, chairman of the Board of Trustees. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, WHOI)

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The past year has affirmed a long-term paradigm shift in how our country values basic research. National defense as the driver of ocean sciences is gradually being replaced by a recognition that basic research is an engine for our global economic competitiveness. There are hopeful signs in the proposed increase in National Science Foundation budget for 2007, yet I expect an increasing burden for research support will fall on the private sector.

These trends have been emerging for some time, and we have been rising to the challenge to keep the Institution strong and support its leadership in ocean science research and education. In 2005, we gathered all our efforts under an eight-point plan that forms our roadmap for the near-term. The core of the plan is to improve our cost effectiveness while augmenting strong revenue streams and seeking alternative revenue sources.

Our plan
One: I will spend more time in Washington, D.C. advocating for ocean science funding, and making the case for ocean sciences as a driver of economic competitiveness. We have friends on both sides of the aisle, yet if we scientists donít take the lead, no one else will.

Two: The success of our $200-million fund-raising campaign is now more important than ever. At the close of the year we passed the $136-million mark, and we are ramping up our efforts to accelerate the campaign.

Three: Asia is the rising star in basic research, and we are building ties with Singapore, a new player, and strengthening long-standing relations with Japan.

Four: As my focus shifts to Washington and fund-raising, Jim Luyten, Carolyn Bunker, and the other vice presidents are shouldering more internal institutional responsibilities. This transition had been in motion for several years and in 2005 we formalized it, putting Jim Luyten in charge of day-to-day operations.

Five: We implemented a cost-cutting plan for 2006 to reduce overhead expenses and check the effects of spiraling costs for healthcare, retiree benefits, and energy.

Six: Jim Luyten is developing plans to provide more opportunities for applied oceanography, creating an environment that enhances the linkage of interested individual scientists with private industry and government funding streams we have not traditionally pursued.

Seven: Related to the applied oceanography effort is a program to further develop industry sponsored research and manage our intellectual property, coordinated by Dan Stuermer, vice president, External Relations. This includes a system to identify and protect ideas generated by our staff, and generate revenue from those ideas.

Eight: Under the leadership of our new dean, Jim Yoder, new opportunities in partnering in undergraduate and graduate education are being pursued.

This is a challenging environment we are working in today, where we need to do a better job communicating the value of basic science as a long-term investment in our countryís health and prosperity. We have weathered rough seas before, and our financial position is strong. I believe that with the implementation of these efforts to control costs and develop new revenue, we will emerge from this period a stronger institution.

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