Committee on Arts and Sciences structure shares its recommendations
By Joni Bentz Seal, onCAMPUS staff
An ad hoc committee appointed by Executive Vice President and Provost Edward J. Ray to examine the structure of the University's arts and sciences colleges has recommended that Ohio State create a new executive dean and vice president who would oversee a "federation" of the colleges.
While the current structure of the five colleges would remain, the new executive dean would have responsibility to pass along promotion and tenure recommendations, suggest dean candidates, and ultimately help rebase college budgets. Among other things, the executive dean would help centralize undergraduate student advising, development activities, space and facility use, communications, and outreach and engagement activities. The colleges that would come under the new federation are: Arts, Biological Sciences, Humanities, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.
The recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, created last February by Ray, will be discussed and evaluated campus-wide this month.
The committee was charged with making recommendations in three broad areas: how best to configure the five colleges, whether academic units and programs are assigned to the appropriate colleges, and what would be the scope of authority for an executive dean of the arts and sciences, should one be created.
"The University has engaged in periodic discussions over many years about organizational and/or other changes that would stimulate genuine opportunities for advancing the colleges, and the committee's recommendations are an important first step in an effort to focus the discussion on specific changes," Ray said. "The impetus for this review was to explore meaningful changes that could advance the standing and effectiveness of the Colleges of the Arts and Sciences and to seek comments, reactions and ideas regarding next steps, if any."
Among its recommendations, the committee suggested the following:
"True to its charge, the committee has started a substantive dialogue and advanced recommendations to be considered on a case-by-case basis, for which I am very appreciative," Ray said.
The recommendations have now been reported to faculty, chairs and deans of the colleges, and Ray will use the remainder of the quarter to seek feedback, which he will use to evaluate the potential impact of the recommendations. Open forums for faculty, staff and students of the colleges have taken place. The next step is for the University Senate and other governance committees to gather comments and suggestions.
"The task at hand is to continue the dialogue and to suspend judgment until I've heard from all quarters," Ray said. "We did not start this process with the expectation that there would be no changes, but we will not make changes just for the sake of doing so."
The committee, chaired by Joseph Ferrar, professor of mathematics, reviewed documentation pertaining to the history, academic offerings, budget, enrollment, and faculty and administrative structure for each of the colleges; reviewed and compared organizational structures and program rankings of Ohio State and its benchmark institutions; and solicited input from each of the five deans on topics such as mission, culture, budget and department locations within the individual colleges.
"This review process is a critical element in an effort to identify what, if any, changes should be made in assessing how they will benefit the faculty, staff and students in the arts and sciences," Ray said. "Any changes to the current operations of the arts and sciences that come from this collective effort must be designed to improve the learning and research experience of our faculty and students."
The committee's report can be found online at http://oaa.ohio-state.edu/05reports.html.
Department of Physics welcomes new Eminent Scholar
Hammel getting settled, looking forward to research and interaction with students
By Melissa Weber, MAPS Communications
The Ohio Eminent Scholar program entices outstanding researchers to set up shop in Ohio for a variety of reasons: the title, the prestige, the lab space .... For Chris Hammel, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Experimental Physics at Ohio State, it's the students.
"I get so much energy from teaching and from the students," Hammel said. "It's fun to have this opportunity. I love the attitude and atmosphere at Ohio State."
Hammel was a second-generation physicist at Los Alamos National Lab -- his father worked there also.
"Typically, Los Alamos was a much different place [than Ohio State]," Hammel said. "It was filled with physicists and analytical thinking. I think creativity can be more important. I loved working with post-docs who came to Los Alamos. They were always full of energy, so interested in learning, so willing to do whatever it took."
Hammel's current research includes the cutting-edge areas of high temperature superconductivity and ultra low-temperature physics.
Hammel worked with Bob Richardson, who won the Nobel Prize in 1996, at Cornell University. "He worked at temperatures below 1 milli-Kelvin," Hammel said. "In other words, really, really cold."
It took almost five years to build the experiment, and Richardson spent his career making it work.
"Now, you can buy dilution refrigerators that cool to 2 milli-Kelvin," Hammel said. "These were great experiments, but I always wanted to make a difference in the world."
When high temperature superconductivity was discovered Hammel worked hard to understand how it came about. These materials conduct without dissipation at much higher temperatures, so they could make superconducting applications much more affordable and readily useable.
"I think we will see great savings in energy transmission and storage using these materials, and it's possible to envision transportation using these systems at higher temperatures," he said. "It has always been a dream to operate high speed, energy-efficient superconducting trains."
Hammel is presently focusing on developing scanning magnetic resonance microscopy as a way to better measure sub-surface properties of many materials including silicon and magnetic materials. The process utilizes nuclear or electronic spins as a probe of a local environment.
"MRI uses this same technique," he explained. "The nuclear moments at different locations in your body produce a unique signal that gives us an image from inside your body. We want to push this technique to get much finer images -- possibly on the atomic scale. We have good high resolution tools for studying surfaces; we don't have good tools to look at buried features."
This could have a big benefit in medical situations. Hammel's research is focused on using the spin of the electron to enhance electronic communication and computation. Presently, electronics relies exclusively on electronic charge; by exploiting the spin of the electron, information processing electronics could be improved.
"Until recently, spin was ignored," Hammel said. "Information stored using charge is lost immediately when you turn off your computer. But we know that ferromagnets maintain their information. If we could incorporate ferromagnetism into the information processing elements, this could lead to computers that don't need to be booted."
Instead of a hard drive, billions of magnets (ferromagnets) would be incorporated into the logic elements of the central processing unit (CPU).
Carrying this idea to its limit suggests using an individual spin as the information processing unit -- the 'bit' in a computer. This is the basis for one approach to quantum computing
"This will be very challenging, of course," Hammel said. "This quantum information processing requires us to overcome many barriers. The cool part is that if it works, we could perform computations that cannot be conceived with conventional computers. The difficulty is that it's a really fragile state and difficult to protect and manipulate."
The immediate goal is to detect an individual electron spin at ultra low temperatures in very pure silicon.
"Detecting a single spin would be like finding the Holy Grail," Hammel said.
He is in the process of setting up his lab, hiring students and learning more about Ohio State. Students may find they get as much energy from Hammel as he claims to get from them.
Eminent Scholar position expands nanotechnology efforts
By Pam Frost Gorder, Research Communications
With the funding of a new Eminent Scholar position from the Ohio Board of Regents, Ohio State can now fully enact its plan to expand nanotechnology research.
The new Ohio Eminent Scholar in Computational Nanotechnology position will receive an endowment of $750,000 from the Regents and matching endowment funds from the University. The scholar will hold a joint appointment with tenure in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and work closely with the Center for Materials Research. The partnering department will be determined through the search process.
Cheena Srinivasan, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said the scholar would be an expert in the theoretical and computational aspects of nanotechnology -- the science of manipulating materials and processes at the molecular level.
This latest award completes the foundation of Ohio State's two-pronged research initiative in nanotechnology. In 2001, the Regents awarded the University an Eminent Scholar in Nanotechnology: Molecular Self-Assembly. That position, to be tenured through the Department of Chemical Engineering, will focus on the experimental side of nanotech, when it is filled.
"Having an experimental scholar and a theoretical scholar brings great strength to this initiative," Srinivasan said. "Together, they will be able to leverage the broad spectrum of nanotech research already happening on campus, and forge strategic collaborations outside of campus as well."
Of the 47 Eminent Scholar positions awarded by the Regents since 1984, nearly half -- 22 in total -- have been awarded to Ohio State. Three other Ohio universities -- Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University and Miami University -- also received new scholar positions from the Regents in September.