2013-2018 Strategic Plan Auburn University

2013-2018 Strategic Plan

Priority 3: Enhance Research, Scholarship and Creative Work

A gentleman playing a guitar next to text that says, 'This is Innovation and Collaboration.'


A cornerstone of Auburn's mission is the generation of new knowledge, new applications, and new perspectives through research and scholarly activity. Despite recent financial challenges, Auburn has maintained high levels of productivity in research, scholarship, and creative work relative to most public universities. Due in part to efforts undertaken in the last five years, the foundation for a stronger and larger research enterprise has been built. Over the next five years, Auburn will become increasingly competitive with the most productive universities in its research and creative scholarship activities, especially in areas that address national priorities, resulting in enhanced national and international recognition. We will develop our strategic research initiatives by building on our existing strengths and developing programs that will translate our discoveries into practical solutions for the state, region, and world.

To accomplish these goals, we will challenge the Auburn community to strengthen its research culture and increase research expectations. We will develop programs of distinction and support those scholarly activities that enhance the intellectual vitality of our faculty, the learning of our students, and the outreach and public service engagement provided to the state of Alabama. We will continue to foster interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary collaborations, while enhancing the research experiences of our undergraduate and graduate students.

A photo of a lake.

Many Auburn students are engaged in undergraduate research programs, presenting their work in professional venues and using their discovery and knowledge to enhance their communities. In 2012, Auburn began publishing Auburn Speaks, an annual book series focusing on a specific research topic of interest to a public audience. Released annually during Research Week, the publication not only presents Auburn research, but also captures the institution's role in addressing the increasingly complex issues facing our state, nation, and world.

The inaugural issue, Auburn Speaks 2012: The Gulf Oil Spill was devoted to chronicling Auburn University's research related to the catastrophic oil spill in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Released in the 2013, the second issue, Auburn Speaks: On Water, provided readers with insight into the breadth and depth of water-related research and creative scholarship at Auburn. The third issue, Auburn Speaks: On Food, will focus on food, food-related topics, and hunger.

Strategic Goals

Strategic Goals

5. The university will make significant increases in its scholarly and creative contributions by 2018.

We will measure our results and increase our share of the nation's academic research and development.

  • A. Continue to increase the number and quality of extramurally funded proposals submitted.
  • B. Provide increased central, grant-writing support to enhance the quality of grant submissions.
  • C. Increase extramural funding from major sources, including government, foundations, and industry.
  • D. Charge deans and department chairs to support the generation of extramural research funding.
  • E. Increase research expectations for faculty and recognize outstanding faculty achievement.
  • F. In each discipline in which Auburn grants the PhD, increase our share of scholarly productivity among the nation's doctoral programs in that field.

6. Build upon institutional strengths to reflect national research priorities in the areas of cyber security, energy and the environment, health sciences, food systems and security, STEM education, and transportation.

  • A. Develop new initiatives that will further Auburn's contributions to the economic advancement of Alabama.
  • B. Hire clusters of research-active faculty in areas of institutional strength and priority.
  • C. Increase the number and expand the scope of institutional and public-private partnerships to conduct and promote Auburn research.
Lt. General Ron Burgess in front of Samford Hall.

Lt. Gen. Ron Burgess, a 38-year U.S. Army veteran who spent much of his career in the upper levels of military intelligence and security, joined Auburn University in 2012 as senior counsel for national security programs, cyber programs, and military affairs. A 1974 Auburn graduate, Burgess served as director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency from 2009 until July 2012, prior to his retirement from the Army in September. At Auburn he works in coordination with the university's Office of the Vice President for Research, providing guidance, direction, and support to a broad range of interdisciplinary research initiatives.

Francesca Adler-Baeder in front of an American flag.

Francesca Adler-Baeder in the College of Human Sciences focuses on families under stress and children's experiences in diverse family types. She has been involved in building services in marriage education in Alabama for the past five years and coordinates the Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative in collaboration with the Alabama Children's Trust Fund, designed to raise public awareness of the importance of healthy relationships and marriages.

Strategic Commitments

Strategic Commitments

A. Increase student opportunities for and participation in research and creative scholarship.

B. Designate the Office for the Vice President for Research as the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

  1. Make the Office of Research the focal point for state economic development activities and the recruitment of new businesses to Alabama.
  2. Provide research-based economic development assistance to businesses and industries seeking to create new enterprises or expand existing ones.

C. Strengthen interdisciplinary research and scholarship.

  1. Increase institutional proposal submissions and awards by at least 10 percent each year in each college and school.
  2. Increase the number and quality of submissions from areas where extramural grant support is low.
  3. Develop true partnerships with health professions education entities, such as VCOM, in furthering our health sciences initiatives.

D. Support core research facilities and infrastructure.

  1. Analyze laboratory and research space utilization to determine appropriate allocation metrics and identify opportunities to make fuller use of research facilities.
  2. Enhance research administration to facilitate the needs and growth of the Auburn research enterprise (including technology transfer and the research foundation).
  3. Develop processes that will optimize the utilization of research facilities and promote the sharing of research equipment.
  4. Secure resources to bolster research infrastructure and encourage collaborative and interdisciplinary programs.

Additional Insight

The sign of the Auburn Research Park.

The Auburn Research and Technology Foundation (ARTF) is a university-affiliated, non-profit corporation linked to the university through the Office of the Vice President for Research. Since 2008, the ARTF has successfully launched the Auburn Research Park and the Auburn Business Incubator. In 2013, the Auburn University Board of Trustees approved a 15-acre expansion of the research park to accommodate the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM). The medical school is expected to have its first class in 2015.

A graphic showing 2012 Technology Transfer Metrics.

Additional Insight3

An MRI machine.The research park is currently the location of Building 570 that houses biotechnology, IT, investment, and university administrative offices as tenants. It is also the location of the Auburn Business Incubator. Additionally, the university has constructed two buildings in the research park, the MRI Research Center that opened in late 2010, and the Mike Hubbard Center for Advanced Science, Innovation, and Commerce (CASIC) scheduled to open in August 2013. About two-thirds of the MRI Research Center is leased to healthrelated tenants and about one-third is space used for university research. The Hubbard CASIC Building will house university interdisciplinary research programs.

The Auburn Business Incubator opened in 2011 and has been highly successful. The incubator is a full-service, mixed-use business incubator with the overall mission of assisting start-up and early-stage companies in being successful by providing a network of business development and operational services. Current clients in the innovative facility are a mix of software, engineering, green energy, investment, business support and advertising/marketing companies. Three of the incubator clients are student-owned businesses.

Last updated: 11/17/2016