Every university is facing the challenge of how to increase the support of traditional disciplines, as they evolve, at the same time it invests in cross-disciplinary initiatives that have promise. Most of the existing reward systems of universities favor within-unit appointments, and hence presidents, provosts, and other leaders have been mounting special efforts at cross-unit appointments.
Last year, the three Executive Vice-Presidents (EVP’s), Ed Healton of the Medical Center, Bill Treanor of the Law Center, and I collaborated on a call for faculty proposals for joint appointments. This was a partnership to strengthen Georgetown by supporting cross-cutting scholarly and teaching activities, while at the same time seeking to attract the very best faculty to Georgetown.
In evaluating proposals we favored joint appointments between campuses/schools over joint appointments between units within the same school. Similarly, joint appointments between units with well-defined teaching/research synergies and those with jointly offered courses benefiting students in both units were favored over others. Finally, joint appointments entailing association with an existing interdisciplinary effort at Georgetown were preferred over others.
Last year, we redefined the joint appointment structure for the main campus to protect candidates from shouldering more than 100% jobs by their dual citizenship. We also specified a promotion review process that protected joint appointment holders (i.e., a positive outcome in one unit and a negative outcome in the other leads to a positive outcome in the first unit and a dropping of the joint appointment).
The joint appointment initiative succeeded in generating proposals from all three campuses and many different units at the university.
After input from all the schools, the following joint appointment searches have been approved for search in academic year 2016-2017:
Cross-campus Joint Searches
1. Department of Biology, Georgetown College and Department of Pathology, GU Medical Center: Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Biology
The biology of stem cells is an exciting research frontier that offers new insights and opportunities for understanding many basic processes, including aging, cancer and embryonic development. Indeed, the applications of stem cell biology to medicine are multifold and include uses for the prognosis, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the treatment of age-related diseases, the treatment of genetically inherited diseases, and the regeneration of diseased or damaged tissues. Having our students exposed to this field is important for their preparation in several fields.
2. Department of Computer Science, Georgetown College and Georgetown Law: Information Privacy
Matters concerning data, privacy, and policy are central concerns that need systematic attention. Commercial collection of massive data sets, together with governments’ desire to obtain and use these data, raise serious concerns about both the privacy of the people represented in the data set as well as how these data may nonetheless be put to public purpose. The combination of legal scholars and computer scientists would be a strong one in this realm. Those on the policy side could specify how they wanted to use or share the data; the computer scientists could devise systems to allow it to happen, but provide strong guarantees that the data was not being used in other ways.
3. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, College Department of Psychology, and the Medical Center Department of Neuroscience: Cognitive Aging
The world is facing a demographic shift sometimes called the “gray tsunami.” Due to increasing longevity, declining fertility rates, and population-control policies, the percent of the population over the age of 65 is increasing dramatically. Cognitive Aging is an umbrella term for the subfield within Aging that focuses on the individual’s mental factors in the context of aging. These include affective and cognitive processes, their brain bases, genetic and environmental influences, and effects on outcomes for adaptive functioning.
Cross-school Joint Searches
4. McCourt School of Public Policy and Department of Computer Science, Georgetown College: Policy Analytics
To enable sound data-based policymaking, society needs leaders trained in policymaking as well as data analysis on high-dimensional data. This is a set of skills that have historically appeared in separate programs – public policy and computer science. Recognizing the need for these interdisciplinary leaders, however, academic programs are beginning to appear that address the training needs for individuals who have a passion for this area. These programs include both aspects of policy analysis and data science. This appointment would be a key contributor to the “big data” initiatives at the McCourt School and strengthen the interdisciplinary impact of the computer science department.
5. McDonough School of Business and School of Foreign Service: International Business
To build on the recently approved joint master’s degree in International Business and Policy, this joint appointment would bring in a faculty member with a strong research agenda in the economic, strategic and political drivers of success for private sector and public sector organizations. This appointment would be a key catalyst to further the university goals of enhancing its global impact.
6. McDonough School of Business and Department of Computer Science, Georgetown College: Business Analytics
A senior hire in the area of Business Analytics would bring a strong research agenda in machine learning, Operations Research and Management, Business Information Systems, Business Analytics, Statistics, Econometrics, or other business related field. Possible areas of interest could include: utilizing large-scale data with data mining and machine learning to optimize business operations, algorithmic design for mathematical economics, mechanism design, optimization, game theory, or risk mitigation and analysis in complex networked systems such as business supply chains.
For all of these appointments, the search committees will seek to attract scholars with strong international reputations, who would add significantly to the stature of the Georgetown faculty, and who share a deep devotion to a student-centered research university.
On behalf of my two EVP colleagues, I thank all the faculty who reached across units to craft proposals for joint appointments. I congratulate the winning proposals and look forward to the process of identifying world-class faculty to add to the Georgetown community.