Published October 12, 2012
UB last month provided the SUNY Board of Trustees, per its request, with a report that summarizes the facts and circumstances regarding formation of the Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI).
The report was released publicly today by SUNY trustees, who continue to review it. UB is making the report available in its entirety to the UB community and the public at large.
The report noted that:
“As with all research at UB, regardless of the source of funding, it is not the role of the university nor of the funding source to dictate the conclusions drawn by faculty investigators,” said UB Provost Charles Zukoski in examining the report. “This core principle is critical to the preservation of academic freedom.
“Faculty sometimes undertake research in areas that are the subject of significant public debate, which is the case with regard to the shale institute. These activities are supported on the basis of academic freedom and as an essential part of the research mission of our university.”
Zukoski emphasized that while the shale institute has not received any industry funding to date, it is expected to generate support for its research and scholarship through competitive grants, philanthropy and from industry.
“This, too, is consistent with UB’s policies and practices,” he said, noting that other institutes and centers at the university receive external sponsorships.
All research universities pursue external research funding, UB noted in its report to SUNY trustees. For example, National Science Foundation data for 2009—the most recently published data available—indicate that national university research expenditures funded by industry were almost $3.2 billion of total research expenditures equaling $54.9 billion.
The UB report stated that the university has taken, and will continue to take, action to strengthen its policy regarding funded research.
Early this semester, the university adopted the new conflict of interest policy to conform with new federal guidelines issued by the U.S. Public Health Service. Zukoski has asked the Faculty Senate and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development to establish a joint committee to provide advice on university policies and practices related to research, scholarship and publication.