College of Fine Arts and Communications to open research center

Assistant News Editor

The College of Fine Arts and Communication will open its own research center this fall, pending final presidential approval, to assist professors in attaining grant funding and fostering research collaboration.

The C3 Communication Research Center for Communication, Collaboration and Creativity will be operational this fall semester pending final approval from the provost and president. The physical location will not open until sometime next year, but the center’s research coordinator and website will be up and running to assist Fine Arts and Communication faculty in their research endeavors.

Provost Eugene Bourgeois and President Denise Trauth are currently working on the formal approval for the C3 Center, Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois said he is in support of the creation of the center, and the approval process is a matter of formally submitting the proposal for the center.

The discussion of creating a research center such as C3 began a year ago and was initiated by the outgoing dean Tim Mottet said Marian Houser, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

“It was initially (Mottet’s) idea, and as associate dean, he asked me to take the lead in getting this established,” Houser said. “The primary reason is we have a research culture in our college, but we don’t, up to this point, we haven’t had a strong grant or funding culture in our college.”

Houser said while a few professors seek grants in the College of Fine Arts and Communication, the amount is nothing compared to what it is in the science disciplines, like chemistry.

They knew one of the major focuses in the university’s strategic plan is to eventually become a Tier One research institution, Houser said.

“We are currently an Emerging Research Institution, but if we’re going to be a (Tier One) institution, that means everybody has to be involved, and that means every college needs to be involved,” Houser said.

Although professors in the college conduct research, they may not be familiar with the process of acquiring funding and grants, which is a requirement of becoming a Tier One research institution, Houser said. They knew they needed help and the faculty would need guidance, and the new center will hopefully provide this for faculty, she said.

“It’s guidance, direction, support, you know, because we’re fairly unfamiliar with it,” Houser said.

The physical facility for the new center will be located in ASBN 350, though the site will not be open until next year as it is currently under renovation, Houser said.

The Center for the Study of Latino Media and Markets no longer exists, and the new center will be housed in its old space, Bourgeois said.

The new center will probably be more significant for the college and university only because it will integrate faculty and students from all five units in Fine Arts and Communication, Bourgeois said.

Houser said in addition to the office of Lisa Westerbeck, the research coordinator for the center, and a conference room, the new institution will hopefully have a “network area” where people can bring in their laptops to Skype and converse with research “collaborators all over the world.”

Until the new facility is complete, Westerbeck will be housed out of Centennial Hall, Houser said.

“There’s a physical place to meet her now, but what we’re hoping is that the website is a way that people will become involved with the center,” Houser said.

Westerbeck said her role will be to work with faculty to understand their research programs, help them find funding, oversee proposal development and coordinate with other university offices involved. She also hopes to bring multidisciplinary teams together to collaborate in and out of the university.

“I try to have an open door policy where they can just drop by and talk if that’s kind of the beginning,” Westerbeck said.

Westerbeck said she sees cross-departmental and even cross-college collaboration coming from the center.

“I think it’s important for us because a lot of people don’t think research is coming out of our college, and there’s a lot of research happening,” Westerbeck said. “We want to be visible not just to the university but also to outside funders and possible partnerships in the community.”

The website will be “the face of our center” and will spread the word among university faculty to begin collaborations, Houser said.

Within the next week and a half, Bourgeois said he and the president will have made a decision on the approval of the center. He “strongly suspects” that the center will be operational this fall.