Research Mission Retreats


out of focus tulips in foreground with KU Campanile in the background

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 - Joseph Steinmetz, Executive Director, Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System
  • 2019 - Dan Reed, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, the University of Utah
  • 2018 - Joseph 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, 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 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.