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Ohio’s state budget would require commercialization activity be considered in tenure decisions


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: March 8th, 2017

The state of Ohio is introducing a set of proposals in the state budget to encourage its universities to commercialize their research.

The proposed 2018-2019 operating budget would require the boards of trustees at Ohio’s state universities to update their policies on faculty tenure to “promote excellence in instruction, research, service and commercialization.” In other words, faculty members could use their efforts to commercialize technologies as a factor in attaining tenure. In addition, any university seeking incentive funds through the Ohio Department of Higher Education would be required to have such tenure policies.

While universities face new requirements under the budget, faculty members would see more flexibility, says Jeff Robinson, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The budget would simply add a new option for faculty pursuing tenure, not a requirement.

According to Charles See, assistant deputy chancellor for external relations at the department, Ohio has more than enough innovation and expertise in its university’s faculty members. The trick is to steer them toward research that has market potential, and See believes the new budget would help accomplish this.

The proposed budget also includes the establishment of the Ohio Institute of Technology, which would “prioritize, coordinate and focus all state-funded research.” The Institute would also help universities connect with outside partners to commercialize innovations more rapidly.

Martin Abraham, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Youngstown State University, says that not all faculty research is suited for commercialization, yet the inclusion of tech transfer activity as an avenue for getting tenure is a good idea. “We need to have a lot of different ways for our faculty to get tenure,” Abraham says. In fact, some programs at Youngstown already include commercialization as an option.

Source: Crain’s Cleveland Business

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