Scholarship on disabilities and the policies shaping university research
  • Home
  • Conferences
  • Research Mission retreats


The Merrill Center has established a regional series: The Research Mission of Public Universities. At its annual retreat, faculty and administrators discuss timely issues, build innovative approaches to research policy and forge alliances between institutions. Several state universities are involved in this project: the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, the University of Missouri at Columbia, Iowa State University, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Oklahoma.

Each year, a prominent national leader guides our provocative discussions:

2021 – Joe Steinmetz, Frormer Chancellor of University of Arkansas
2019 -- Dan Reed, , Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, The University of Utah
2018 – Joe Steinmetz, Chancellor, University of Arkansas
2017 – Michael Huerta, Associate Director for Program Development and NLM Coordinator of Data Science and Open Science, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
2016 - Kim Wilcox, Chancellor, University of California Riverside
2015 - Ruth Watkins, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of Utah
2014 - Sally Frost Mason, President, the University of Iowa
2013 - Joseph Steinmetz, Senior Executive Vice President and Provost, The Ohio State University
2012 - David Shulenburger, Senior Fellow and Emeritus Vice President for Academic Affairs, Association of Public and Land Grant Universities
2011 - Robert Kaplan, NIH Associate Director for the Behavioral and Social Sciences; Director, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research
2010 - James Moeser, Chancellor Emeritus of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2009 - Kevin A. Roth, Robert and Ruth Anderson Professor and Chair, Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham
2008 - Marion Müller, Director, North American Office, German Research Foundation; and David Lightfoot, Assistant Director, Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences, NSF.
2007 - Dr. James F. Battey, Jr., Director of NIDCD
2006 - John D. Wiley, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin
2005 - Alan Leshner, CEO of AAAS and Executive Publisher of Science
2004 - Mary Sue Coleman, President, University of Michigan
2003 - Debra Stewart, Council of Graduate Schools - USA
2003 - Martha Crago, Canadian Association of Graduate Studies
2002 - Martin Apple, Council of Scientific Society Presidents
2001 - Joan Lorden, University of Alabama at Birmingham
2000 - George Walker, University of Indiana
1999 - Luis Proenza, University of Akron in Ohio
1998 - Michael Crow, Columbia University

Their keynote addresses have included these key precepts:

  • Graduate deans and vice presidents of research are responsible for close to 2 million graduate students, and the scientific and scholarly futures of the U.S. and Canada.
  • Identifying and funding niche areas for research focus is a wise strategy for attaining institutional excellence.
  • Mergers and consortia are no longer anathema among universities, and cooperation with industry is essential in the new economy.
  • Taxpayers and students are quite able to champion the cause of research as a valuable state resource.
  • The standards we put in place for the evaluation of faculty tenure and promotion and for graduate education will change behavior. We will become what we measure.
  • Scientists can come to the aid of the country in a national security crisis.
  • Continued public support for higher education is fundamental to its future.

We have released a policy paper from each of the Merrill research retreats. These are available online or may be requested in print.

Special Initiatives

The Merrill Center also sets the stage for policy initiatives that are regional or national in scope. When strategic issues arise, Merrill conferences can become a place for the major stakeholders to gather, become better acquainted, and execute an action plan. Our conference on scholarly publishing resulted in a statement of principles that has been endorsed by several national organizations and discussed on campuses throughout the nation. It is beginning to change the way scientific findings are released. In 2001, the regional conferences on biomedical research resulted in the Kansas City Coalition for Excellence in Life Sciences (KC-CELS) and an action plan for a Biomed Valley in the Kansas City area.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today