University VP Schook: Lab Will Elevate Our Game

October 17, 2012

A University of Illinois administrator hopes to have a concrete proposal for a Chicago-based research lab for university trustees by January.

But Vice President for Research Larry Schook says for now, it’s simply a concept being explored.

He says the U of I needs a vehicle for starting partnerships that aren’t created by a single party, and translating innovation at the university into job opportunities.  But Schook promises whatever happens will not take away from U of I resources.

“This is a not a zero-sum game," he said. "This is not about how do we re-arrange the deck chairs, or take from Peter to pay Paul.   This is meant to elevate our game, elevate our visibility as a global destination.  We are a global university.  We have incredible international presence.  And we need to really use that to bring jobs and economic innovation to the state and to the city.”

Schook admits seeking out private donors in the business community is a challenge, but says that’s part of the reason the university has established the name ‘UI Labs:  The Future today.” 

U of I professor Nick Burbules says an urban-based high tech center connected to a university, but a separate entity is a ‘hot idea’ now, and the U of I wants to be on the forefront.

"Faculty, grad students, post-docs from the campuses would have an opportunity to spend time there sort of in residence doing research in R&D projects, but they wouldn't be leaving their campus home,' he said.  "They would continue to be tenured faculty on the campuses, or students enrolled on the campuses."

Schook outlaid initial plans at the University Senates Conference Tuesday, and plans to address the U of I’s separate campus academic senates next month.

Story source: WILL