Research funds activities, helps faculty professional growth
By Alan Van Ormer
Research at Dakota State University not only brings in money for various research activities on campus, but also is an important part of the professional growth of each faculty member.
The research grants are good for the university because they can result in a source of income, increased prestige to the faculty member and increased enrollment, said Cecelia Wittmayer, Vice President of Academic Affairs.
And for each faculty member at the university, depending on the discipline, the type of research that they do is different. Each faculty member is evaluated regularly on teaching, research and service. As the faculty member is promoted, expectations in all three areas increase.
“Research is part of their life at the college,” Wittmayer said. “It is an expectation.”
When Wittmayer came to the university in 1986, she said there wasn’t much emphasis placed on research. “That is just not adequate anymore,” she said.
Faculty members continue to attend conferences, but now the emphasis and encouragement has been pushed to publications and grants.
In addition, DSU now has two research centers on campus. The first was the National Center for the Protection of Financial Infrastructure. The most recent is the Center for Health Informatics. Researchers are working with the State of South Dakota Department of Health to help clinics, hospitals and nursing homes to meet federal government mandates with electronic health records. DSU also has an undergraduate degree in Health Information Management and Health Information Administration, as well as a Master’s Degree in Health Informatics.
The other research center is the largest portion of the research program at the university. The National Center for the Protection of Financial Infrastructure has submitted for almost $5 million in grants through the National Science Foundation, National Air and Space Administration, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense. An estimated $1.4 million of those funds would be used to build space on the university campus to conduct cyber research activities.
Kevin Streff, who heads the research center, said campus research is great economic development for the community.
In the past 10 years, the school’s graduate programs have increased to 300 students. “If we continue at that pace, that is 300 more in 10 years,” Streff said.
In addition, 156 undergraduate students are studying security on campus.
Also, the research center allows for partnership development with other universities and with businesses.
“If you don’t have other academic institution and industry partnerships, you won’t be successful in sustaining grant programs,” Streff said.
Partnerships with organizations also provide prestige to the university. “Those kind of accolades say something about the quality of the university, show the cutting edge aspect of our programs, and say something about our faculty,” Wittmayer said.