The University Record, February 20, 1996

U-M sponsors conference for academic, government, and industry leaders

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

Representatives from major universities, government officials and private industry leaders will gather on campus Feb. 26 for the first annual Jerome B. Wiesner Symposium, titled "The Future of the Government /University Research Partnership: Exploring Principles and Expectations."

The symposium will begin at 8:30 a.m. in Rackham Amphitheater with opening remarks and a keynote address by Charles Vest, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a series of roundtable discussions to follow throughout the day, panelists will present their views of the fundamental tasks for universities in a changing world, the basic rationale and parameters for government assistance in those tasks, and moderate a general discussion of the issues.

According to Homer A. Neal, vice president for research and organizer of the symposium, members of the University community and the general public are encouraged to attend and participate in the panel discussions.

"Our goal is to generate a discussion that brings all the parties and sectors together, in the hope of developing a broad, mutual understanding of the principles that ought to guide both universities and the government as they plan for the future," Neal says. "Just holding that discussion and sharing views will be a significant achievement, but I hope we will also be able to develop a new version of these principles that will be one step closer to garnering broad acceptance."

The symposium is named in honor of Jerome B. Wiesner, one of the U-M's most distinguished alumni and president of MIT in 1971­1980, who served as science and technology adviser to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Several of Wiesner's successors in the White House science and technology office are expected to attend the symposium, including D. Allan Bromley, Donald Hornig, Ernest Moniz and H. Guyford Stever.

Others participating in the panel discussions include Vernon Ehlers, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan's 3rd District; Lynn Rivers, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan's 13th District; James J. Duderstadt, U-M president; John McTague, vice president of technical affairs for Ford Motor Co.; Robert Galvin, executive committee chair for Motorola, Inc.; and Anne Peterson, deputy director of the National Science Foundation.

"Our universities have the potential to give us the foundation of knowledge and understanding that we as a nation need to sustain ourselves, our economy and our society," Neal says. "For their part, universities will need to be more responsive to the needs of industry and the economy than they have in the past. For its part, the federal government must resolve the question of the proper scope of federal involvement in research and bring greater continuity into funding decisions."

"What we are engaged in is a collective effort to clarify the parameters and scope of the partnership, and to optimize its future course with respect to the national good," Neal adds. "This will require a concerted effort on the part of all parties, but it certainly can and must be done."

For additional information or to request a copy of the symposium agenda, contact Gary Krenz in the Office of the Vice President for Research at 763-6048 or send e-mail to