Brock is building its reputation as a university known for a culture of research leadership.
To help, Gary Libben, Vice-President of Research, is co-ordinating the development of 2020 Vision: The Brock 2013 Research Plan. It’s the latest edition of the University’s research plan, a guide for advancing research at Brock until 2020 and measuring the milestones the institution reaches.
“Basically, our goal is to develop a document, about 20-plus pages, of something that specifies where we are, where we’re going, how to get there and how to know we’ve made progress,” Libben said.
Libben has spent the past few months at town halls and in meetings with administrators and researchers in different faculties to hear their visions for advancing the culture of research leadership, and how the University can effectively support and promote creativity, scholarship, discovery, and invention.
Kevin Kee and Joffre Mercier, Brock’s new Associate Vice-Presidents of Research, are also helping with the consultations.
“We have an engaged research community that wants to create new opportunities,” Libben said. “The Brock 2013 Research Plan will capture the goals of the community and lay out a path toward their achievement.”
Although the latest incarnation of the plan will have a shelf-life of more than six years, Libben is interested mostly in what can be done by 2016 to secure Brock’s stake among research institutions.
“In reality, we’re not expecting to keep this until 2020. We’re having a vision for seven years out but in reality, you want to look at this plan every two years,” he said.
The new plan is particularly important given Brock’s transition to a comprehensive institution since the last strategic research plan was written in 2008. It’s a move that was recently recognized by Maclean’s in the magazine’s annual university rankings.
“We’re clearly in a different game,” Libben said. “We’ve moved into the comprehensive university category, for which the core mandate is to create new knowledge. We do this through teaching and by working together with students to create the insights and research breakthroughs that make a difference in Niagara and around the world.”
Another notable change since 2008 is the “culture of what can be done” at Brock, he added.
“I think the building across the walk has a lot to do with it,” Libben said, motioning toward the new Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex from his office in Mackenzie Chown. “I’m sure a lot of people said, that’s crazy, it’s not going happen. But it did happen. And the result is extraordinary.”
Transdisciplinarity has also become a focus, with researchers from different departments and faculties working together on projects. That approach to research is a “game changer,” Libben noted.
“What we have to think about is configurations that allow us to interact in the best way possible. Transdisciplinarity is really in the centre of where we think we need to be going,” he said.
A key feature of the strategic research plan is measuring Brock’s success in becoming a research-intensive institution. The publishing of research and funding are obvious measures, Libben noted, but there are others and they aren’t as easy to quantify, including impact on the community.
Libben hopes to draft the plan this summer. In the meantime, he’ll continue to seek input from the university community to ensure the final result best represents Brock.