Utah State University is reorganizing key leadership at the institution to further its focus and growth in the areas of commercialization and regional development. Organizational changes are also being made to enhance graduate and research opportunities at the institution. Vice Provost and Dean for Graduate Studies Byron Burnham will leave Utah State in July 2011 for retirement. Vice President for Research Brent Miller is stepping down in July 2011 for a sabbatical leave, and Vice President for Strategic Ventures and Economic Development Ned Weinshenker is stepping down in January of 2011 to become executive director and technology commercialization advisor for USU’s Innovation Campus. USU President Stan L. Albrecht said key changes were needed in order to keep pace with expanding opportunities for commercial development and public/private partnerships, both in Logan and at the regional campuses. Three areas of growth include the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative, the university’s commercial technology arm and USU’s significant role in the state’s regional development. An announcement detailing the integration of these entities under a new structure is expected early next week. Albrecht praised Burnham, Miller and Weinshenker for their work and vision. “I hold deep respect for all three of these individuals,” he said. “We are all indebted to them for their skills and tireless efforts on behalf of the university. We have reached a new benchmark at Utah State University and they have helped us get there.” Burnham has served as vice provost and dean for Graduate Studies since July 2006. His key accomplishments during his appointment are many and include increasing the awareness of USU’s graduate program through a concerted marketing and branding campaign. Burnham’s statewide vision of graduate education has played an important role in the expansion of graduate degree offerings at the university’s regional campuses and centers throughout Utah, said Raymond Coward, USU executive vice president and provost.”Graduate education has always had an important place on our Logan Campus, but Dr. Burnham has promoted growth of the graduate school throughout the state of Utah,” Coward said. “Dr. Burnham’s leadership has been vital to the success and increasing notoriety of the graduate school.” Graduate Studies has flourished under Burnham’s leadership, and many new programs and offerings for both students and faculty were instituted during his tenure.On the student side, Burnham was able to secure health insurance for graduate assistants and also maintained stable levels of tuition awards in spite of decreasing budgets due to the economic downturn in recent years. Burnham also redeveloped and directs the New Faculty Teaching Academy and has initiated a monthly, campus-wide session for graduate program coordinators. He has been instrumental in assisting with the smooth transition of academic programs for the USU and College of Eastern Utah merger. Burnham also serves as accreditation evaluator for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.”It has been a pleasure working under President Albrecht’s leadership and to see USU regain and enhance its status as a fine land-grant institution,” said Burnham. “I have enjoyed my association with the university and its faculty.”Burnham joined Utah State University in 1972, where he was program coordinator in the Conference and Institute Division and executive secretary of the Quality of Rural Life Programs until 1979. He spent several years at the University of British Columbia before returning to USU in 1980 as director of the Management Institute and assistant director of the Conference and Institute Division. He has served as associate dean for Extension, Learning Resources Program, and as interim dean of Information and Learning Resources. He participated in the National Leadership Development Project, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the University of Wisconsin. The project focused on improving higher education across the United States. As part of the project, Burnham undertook a two-year study of leadership in higher education.Miller steps down after serving nearly 11 years as vice president for research and is currently the longest serving vice president at the university. Under Miller’s leadership, the Research office made many significant accomplishments.Externally funded research awards increased from $106 million to $187 million in 2009-10, the highest level in the university’s history. The office of Proposal Development, created by Miller in 2007, saw its highest growth in 2010 with 260 more proposals for external funding submitted than in 2009. In 2008, the office of International Research Programs was re-established to grow research and development opportunities around the world. The Sponsored Programs office gained a reputation for service and competence assisting faculty with grant submission and administration.”Under the leadership of Vice President Miller, the Research office has made tremendous strides, evidenced recently with record-breaking external research funding,” said Albrecht. “The list of his accomplishments is long, and the processes he and his staff have set in place have positioned USU to compete more successfully for grants and contracts.” Early in his tenure with the Research office, Miller led the expansion of the Innovation Campus from 36 acres to more than 150 acres. In 2002-03, he helped plan and launch the Utah Science and Technology Research (USTAR) initiative, which continues to bring new research funding and facilities to USU from the state legislature. He also worked to advance the USU Technology Commercialization Office (TCO), staffing it with tech-savvy business development professionals.Miller made a concerted effort to help new researchers get started successfully and to ensure their compliance with state and federal regulations. A Faculty Research Orientation and Faculty Research Handbook were initiated in 2005 to train and assist faculty. The first ever Research Policy was passed at USU in 2004, followed by the Human Research Policy in 2007 and the Animal Research Policy in 2010. In the last decade there have been few major research problems or incidents among USU researchers, partly to the credit of the Environmental Health and Safety office and the office of Compliance Assistance, both under Miller’s leadership. Student research involvement has grown remarkably with Miller at the helm. Undergraduate research poster presentations, started in the state capitol rotunda in 2001, have been made by more than 300 USU students. The Research Fellows program, started in 2004, awards research stipends to nearly 30 top incoming freshmen each fall and matches them with selected faculty mentors. The Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research was initiated by USU in 2007, and top undergraduate researchers also have presented every year at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. This concerted attention to undergraduate research has allowed the university to compete successfully for prestigious national fellowships. Miller also has worked to better communicate the story of research at USU. Starting with student interns who have become marketing professionals, the “Research Matters” magazine was first published in 2003, featuring stories about faculty and student researchers in every college and in selected research centers. Research Week, established in 2005, annually engages several hundred undergraduates, graduate students and their faculty mentors, bringing greater visibility to student and faculty researchers across the university. Sunrise Sessions were started in 2006, in collaboration with USU Advancement, to broaden the visibility of USU research in the Salt Lake area. The Research Calendar was added in 2007 as yet another way to draw attention to the great work of USU researchers and scholars. “I especially recognize and credit associate vice presidents Joyce Kinkead, Jeff Broadbent and DeeVon Bailey for their great efforts to advance research at USU,” Miller said. Miller is the author of several books and more than 100 articles and book chapters, and an elected Fellow of the National Council on Family Relations. At the national level, Miller currently serves as the chair of the Council on Research Policy and Graduate Education for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. He also chairs the board of directors of the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs. After his sabbatical leave, Miller will return to the USU faculty in the Department of Family, Consumer and Human Development Weinshenker joined USU in 2006 to lead four units at the university, including technology commercialization, the USU arm of the USTAR initiative, Innovation Campus and the Business Accelerator. During his tenure, Weinshenker has been instrumental in the growth and success of all these areas. “We brought Dr. Weinshenker on at a critical period in the university’s history when we began to focus on developing intellectual discoveries and turning them into commercial ventures,” Albrecht said. “We have been pleased with the work he has done to lay the foundation for our future success in these areas.” The Technology Commercialization office directed by Ray DeVito, under Weinshenker, has seen tremendous growth in the last four years. In fiscal year 2010, the TCO filed 50 patent applications and received 92 invention disclosures from students and professors. A record 16 patents were issued to Utah State University in fiscal year 2010, the most patents ever received by the TCO in a single year. And while the number of patents received by the TCO continues to grow, the growth is witnessed in the real-world production of companies licensing USU technologies. Nineteen license agreements were signed in fiscal year 2010, compared to 11agreements signed each year in 2009 and 2008 and licensing income increased by 14 percent from the previous fiscal year. Five spin-out companies were created using USU technologies — a match to the previous year’s five companies.Weinshenker also helped recruit and developed a working relationship with Dave Clark in the Huntsman School of Business to integrate student entrepreneurial programs into the commercialization process and worked closely with the USU Research Foundation to help it patent technologies and spin out companies. He also created a TCO Advisory Board that includes experienced industry representatives. The USTAR program at Utah State has seen an increase in both terms of people and facilities. Weinshenker worked closely with USU faculty to help shape the first wave of USTAR teams, which has now grown to nine. USTAR’s economic impact at USU is significant. The initiative has created more than 100 jobs and USTAR teams have filed 56 invention disclosures and 16 patents. One USTAR technology has been licensed and one company has moved corporate headquarters to USU’s Innovation Campus due to close ties with the USU USTAR Space Weather Center.Weinshenker also played a key role on the completion of the new USU USTAR BioInnovations “650” building to be dedicated in October 2010. The 110,000-square-foot facility, located on the Innovation Campus, is designed to foster collaborative relationships among all USU life sciences researchers, industry and other higher education institutions. His work on Innovation Campus also includes the continuation of Grand Avenue to intersect with 800 East allowing a better connection from the main USU campus to the Innovation Campus.During his tenure, Weinshenker also created many advantageous networking relationships for the university. He works closely with the Cache Chamber of Commerce and is a founding member of both the Cache Entrepreneurial Council and the investment committee of KickStart Ventures, a seed venture capital group in Salt Lake City. He is a member of the board of the Utah Technology Council and a member of the State Science Advisory Council. He is also an adjunct professor in USU’s Chemistry department and is helping students with career development. In his new role as executive director of the Innovation Campus and technology, as well as commercialization advisor, Weinshenker will turn over the USTAR team responsibilities to the academic side of the institution. “This change will allow me to focus on the Innovation Campus, which I feel can be substantially expanded with sufficient time and energy going into marketing and branding the assets,” he said. “I will also work with the new organization in advising on commercialization efforts.”
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