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Funding Research

December 6, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 49

ACS 2009 IRS Form 990 Available

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I am the reader who typically grouses about or applauds privately opinions expressed in some letters to the editor or editorials in C&EN. I usually do nothing more than grouse or smile. However, Allen Bard has moved me to support publicly and in print what he has so clearly and elegantly expressed in his editorial “It’s Not the Money, Stupid” (C&EN, Oct. 11, page 3).

I have been disgusted with many universities’ approaches to “learning” for many years. My main contact with academics has been through collaborations in my capacity as a researcher with DuPont for almost 30 years. I have had the privilege of working with some fine professors who do not play the money game that Bard has described. People like John Dealy (emeritus, McGill), William W. Graessley (retired, Princeton, Northwestern), Mark A. McHugh (Virginia Commonwealth U., Johns Hopkins), and A. Jeffrey Giacomin (Wisconsin) have always put their educational and research responsibilities first. They were also successful at getting the requisite funding.

However, I agree with Bard that many are pressured by the current system to be moneygrubbers and that many universities have created such a bureaucracy for getting and protecting money that they have forgotten that their primary task is educating both in the classroom and with good research. During my DuPont years, I had the good fortune of accessing funds to promote collaborations with the excellent people I have mentioned. One of the strategies I followed was to give monetary gifts to professors whom I personally trusted would perform research of benefit to DuPont and myself as well as educate worthy students and advance science.

Several of these students were hired by DuPont because of the mutual benefit of this activity. I did not need a lawyer-designed contract to get what I needed because I trusted the people I was dealing with. The benefit of a gift was that all the money went to the professor and none of it to the administrative part of the university. Maybe if more of this type of funding were given, it would help, in some small way, those educators and researchers who are actually educating and researching. I am not naïve enough to think that this strategy would play a big part in restoring sanity to the university system, but some might get the message.

William H. Tuminello
Fort Collins, Colo.



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