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U Maryland Tenure - Harris Search Associates

University of Maryland to Count Patents and Commercialization in Tenure Reviews

From the Chronicle of Higher Education- By Goldie Blumenstyk

The University System of Maryland is about to adopt a new policy to formally give credit in tenure and promotion decisions for faculty work that leads to patents and other intellectual property applied in technology transfer.   The new policy, slated for final Board of Regents approval on June 23, is part of the system's broader push to promote the commercialization of academic research.   Maryland institutions receive a lot of research money but have been "very run of the mill" when it comes to transforming that research into useful products and services, said William E. (Brit) Kirwan, chancellor of the system, in an interview on Wednesday. "The culture of commercializing intellectual property just hasn't existed in Maryland."   In adopting a policy recognizing "activities that result in the generation and application of intellectual property through technology transfer," Maryland follows Texas A&M University and about two dozen other institutions that now formally recognize such activities for tenure.  

In December a conference in Washington of university presidents and venture capitalists recommended the adoption of such a policy. Participants at the conference also recommended granting sabbaticals for faculty members to develop inventions into commercial products. Mr. Kirwan said the Maryland system would adopt that idea too. The new Maryland policies were already in the works before the conference, he said, but that event was a "further catalyst."   The Maryland system in 2010 set itself the 10-year goal of creating 325 companies based on academic research or helped along by university economic-development programs. Mr. Kirwan said the university was mindful that such a goal carries risks: In a push to meet the goal, companies could be formed for the sake of creating companies, even if they were not sustainable businesses.


At Harris Search Associates we see this as a trend likley to continue as client institutions look for ways to reward research faculty for innovation and discovery that provides revenue to the enterprise.   Furthermore, providing additional incentive to research faculty to accelerate the tenure process based upon output is proving to be an additional means to assist in the attraction of top research talent in the hyper-competitive marketplace.


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