I recently visited a university in the midwest and toured four basic science departments. I was alarmed to see they were 35-40% empty. The space was beautiful but the departments were struggling with limited resources to replace faculty that retired or moved. I am also becoming aware of more and more faculty who are choosing to move overseas.
I am considering establishing a basic science hedge fund and selling U.S. science short.
I think nimble departments and senior scientists will be able to take advantage of this situation. The places with resources will be able to capture great young scientists. But to truly capitalize on the situation synergies will need to be created and new concepts of teams implemented. Additionally, very rapidly evolving technologies will have to be exploited. Old ideas about paths to tenure and what a department or center is will have to be discarded.
Dr. Richard Bookman says two of the longest continuously running organizations in society are the orthodox churches and academic departments. Hummm. I guess that means academic departments are a really stable and successful model, at least for teaching. But are they the best model for doing team based research?