Affiliation With University of Chicago In Discussion Phase At MBL
By: Brent Runyon
The Marine Biological Laboratory is in discussions with the University of Chicago regarding an affiliation between the two organizations.
Joan V. Ruderman, president and director of MBL, said yesterday that several universities submitted proposals to formalize an affiliation with MBL in light of immediate cash shortfalls and tightening funding opportunities facing the institution.
University of Chicago, with its reputation as a major research university and a strong connection to the earliest days at MBL, was determined by the executive committee of the board of trustees to be the best match, she said.
Discussions are ongoing, Dr. Ruderman said, and details about the proposed affiliation are sparse. There is no time frame for an agreement, she said. “We’re doing things at a good pace, but it’s not going to be tomorrow and it’s not going to be 10 years from now,” she said.
Financial discussions are not being disclosed, she said. “Those, of course, are the most confidential,” she said. “I would not expect a lot of information on that.”
The exact nature of the affiliation is also not clear. “Affiliation is a vague word that covers a lot of things,” she said. “We would expect to have stronger joint research programs and we would expect to have some financial benefit from an affiliation,” she said. It is of the utmost importance that MBL retain its character and culture, she said.
But the proposed affiliation is a major positive for the MBL, she said. “We’re very excited about this and everybody that we’ve talked to has been very excited about this possibility,” she said.
The deep historical connection between MBL and University of Chicago was “a very nice plus,” Dr. Ruderman said. The founding director of the MBL, Charles O. Whitman, was on the faculty of University of Chicago, as was MBL’s second director, Frank R. Lillie, and the founder the MBL physiology course, Jacques Loeb. Each man has a building named after them on the MBL campus and a street named after them in Woods Hole.
We’re very excited about this and everybody that we’ve talked to has been very excited about this possibility.
Dr. Joan Ruderman
Chicago businessman Charles Crane, Mr. Lillie’s brother-in-law, also served on the MBL board for many years. Mr. Lillie’s descendants are the Bacon, Cramer, Egloff, and Farrell families of Falmouth and Woods Hole.
Dr. Ruderman said the University of Chicago wants to strengthen the MBL’s reputation as a catalyst for scientific interactions, as an institution where important discoveries take place, and as a center for advanced training in biological, environmental and marine science. Both MBL and University of Chicago have reputations as intellectual destinations, she said.
There are already existing affiliations between MBL and Brown University, MBL and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology.
The University of Chicago also has a strong history of successful affiliations with a variety of distinguished research institutions, she said. These include Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab and the National Opinion Research Center. Each of those institutions has benefited from the affiliation while retaining its individual identity, culture and collaborative partners, she said.
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