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Former Ohio University president Roderick McDavis released a report of highlights from his time as president on Tuesday. The report detailed accomplishments such as increasing national prominence, diversity and strategic partnerships among other things. (FILE)

Strategy to fund innovations

Ohio University is seeking project ideas that are "innovative."

Ohio University has a plan in place — and money aside — to fund projects that administrators believe show innovation.

It’s too soon to say, though, how the university’s “Innovation Strategy,” has fared since it was established a year ago.

The program will award up to $4 million in its first cycle to forward-thinking project ideas.

The hope is that these investments will ensure that OU “advances knowledge and makes a difference in society,” said Vice President for Research Joseph Shields, who is spearheading the plan along with Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit.

The program encourages collaboration among departments and colleges, said Dennis Irwin, dean of the Russ College of Engineering.

Irwin has an idea, that hasn’t been proposed, that would include the Russ College collaborating with the College of Fine Arts to offer an industrial design degree program under the Innovation Strategy.

The degree would challenge industrial designers to create cost-efficient products while also addressing consumer issues, such as a manufacturer’s impact on the environment.

“Societal problems tend to be multidisciplinary,” Irwin said. “We’re working problems, we’re not working (academic) disciplines.”

How the projects will be proposed is undetermined, but university administrators will have to give a final approval.

Proposals will be organized into several categories: digitally connected world; energy, environment and the economy; health and wellness; and vibrant societies and economies.

Eva Klein and Associates, a higher education consulting firm, released a 71-page report in August that defined the program’s goals and parties involved, but offered little in terms of a course of action.

“It is an interim report,” Shields said. “That means that there are a number of places where the specifics are not there.”

The university created the plan in part to perpetuate OU’s role as an economic driver in Ohio — OU generated roughly “$1.5 billion in economic impact” in the state in 2012, according to a university study.


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