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.
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
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.