February 8, 2011

Letter to the Editor: the ethos of the Office of Undergraduate Research

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To the Editor:

Re: “Prioritizing Undergraduate Research,” Opinion, Feb. 2

I’m very pleased to see the support provided in the recent Sun editorial, for our new Office of Undergraduate Research. The office was created for many reasons and to address many of the needs that are detailed in this editorial. Unfortunately, a previous Sun article suggested that the creation of this new office was a merely a direct consequence of the accreditation process. We want to make it clear that Cornell’s reaccreditation has no connection with the concept of the Office of Undergraduate Research. This new effort reflects a serious commitment on the part of my office to support initiatives that enhance undergraduate education across the campus. Laurel Southard, the new Director of Undergraduate Research, has begun work this semester to pursue some of those activities and priorities that The Sun names, as well as others: engaging college advising offices, exploring fundraising opportunities, reaching out to our living and learning communities and highlighting research as a vital dimension of undergraduate education. At the end of March, almost 100 Cornell students will be presenting their research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Ithaca College — supported by funds from the Provost.  The spring semester will be filled with listening and talking and planning, so that we can take a very active role to determine what research undergraduates are involved in and what areas need more resources.  Undergraduates need to be a part of this process and we look forward to working students to develop and sustain programs and initiatives that will be meaningful to both undergraduates and faculty.

Laura Brown, vice provost for undergraduate education