Western hopes its newest program will have the pull to attract everyone from Harold W. McGraw Prize in Education winners to Nobel Laureates.
The Western Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence Program, which will target eminent members of the global academic community, was rolled out to Senate on March 22.
“The objective of the program is to bring high-profile, internationally recognized leaders to Western to develop innovative ideas that contribute to the research and scholarly environment,” said Janice Deakin, provost and vice-president (academic). “The program will support multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research collaboration to build on the research and scholarly strengths of Western, and provide global high visibility for resulting interactions at Western.”
Deakin said up to four scholars will be supported annually, at $50,000 each, and will be treated as an honorarium for the scholars on leave or sabbatical, as opposed to a salary. The funding includes provides for travel and accommodations as well as research expenses for one term.
The honorary title will be held for the duration of the visit by the scholar, who will be asked to use it in official documents, like published papers and conference presentations.
Those terms hold real possibilities for directly related and spinoff research within the university, said John Capone, vice-president, research.
“Attracting world-renowned scholars to spend time at Western raises aspirations and expectations for everyone,” Capone said. “Their exceptional scholarship and ground-breaking research will serve as an inspiration for faculty, students and staff and stimulate a heightened level of intellectual engagement. The program will inspire existing areas of scholarship at Western, and advance new collaborative, interdisciplinary and innovative research activities.”
The application process will begin shortly. Proposals can be submitted by academic/research units or a partnership of multiple academic/research units. Deakin said those with an international and/or interdisciplinary bent will be “highly valued.”
Accepted from areas of existing or emerging strength, the proposals will be considered on an open basis. Therefore, awards will be available for uptake in any term of the academic cycle.
“The aim is to build ties with Western researchers and students, such that long-term and ground-breaking research will result through the collaborations developed through this program,” she said. “We look forward to working with the deans in launching this.”
Michael Milde, Arts & Humanities dean, signaled optimism at the possibilities.
“The new Western Distinguished Scholars-in-Residence introduces a wonderful opportunity,” Milde said. “From my perspective, it will make it possible for Arts & Humanities to invite eminent scholars in the broader liberal arts to spend time with the Western intellectual community. We will benefit from having top scholars in our fields sharing their expertise with us. At the same time, it is an opportunity for our scholars to make their interdisciplinary and international research activities more visible to the wider global intellectual communities as well. In this way, it will reaffirm the intrinsic connection between the creation and transmission of new knowledge.”
Michael Strong, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry dean, echoed similar sentiments.
“This is a key plank in the initiative of the university to increase our international profile and our research intensity,” Strong said. “By creating the Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence program, the university is signaling that it is very serious about creating opportunities for the faculties to not only bring the world’s best academics to our doorstep, but to have them share their knowledge and experience in a truly meaningful manner. It is a great initiative at an important time for our university.”
Charmaine Dean, Science dean, saw the program as seamlessly fitting into her faculty’s goals.
“A priority for Western Science is the development of major interdisciplinary initiatives, for example, hosting of Networks of Centres of Excellence, or other major research portfolios. As well, we are identifying key signature themes which will form a basis for our interdisciplinary stronghold,” she said. “The Western Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence Program will form a major support structure to permit engagement in dialogue with internationally acclaimed scholars in the development of these signature areas. Such engagements will be instrumental in bringing Western Science’s achievements to a wider circle of influence and, as well, in guiding our strategic directions.”