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What Next for Public Research Universities?

By Tim Sands

Purdue University



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The Morrill Act of 1862 outlined a framework for the creation of state public universities designed for the express purposes of promoting economic development through applied research and supporting our democracy by educating the citizenry. In the past three decades, the impact of these institutions has expanded beyond state borders, and their funding portfolios have become diversified. At the same time, less resilient components of the states’ obligations have grown, and taxpayers have gradually disinvested from their public and state land-grant research universities. The Great Recession has accelerated this trend, presenting both an immense challenge and an unprecedented opportunity. It is clearly time for fundamental change in both the funding model and in the delivery model for synergistic teaching and learning, research and engagement at public research institutions. HUBzero™ may be one of the enabling platforms that brings the dual role of promoting democracy and economic development into a modern context that recognizes both the constraints of a new funding model and an evolving global reach for our public research universities.


Timothy D. Sands became Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost of Purdue University on April 1, 2010. He earned a bachelor's degree with highest honors in engineering physics and a master's degree and doctorate in materials science from the University of California, Berkeley.

As executive vice president and provost, Dr. Sands will be responsible for all of Purdue’s colleges and schools, the regional campuses and related academic activities in coordination with the Office of the President.

Dr. Sands joined the Purdue faculty in 2002 as the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering in the schools of materials engineering and electrical and computer engineering. From 1993-2002, Sands was a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California-Berkeley and before that, he performed and directed research at Bellcore.

Sands has published more than 200 papers and has been granted 15 patents in electronic and optoelectronic materials and devices. His present research efforts are directed toward the development of novel nanocomposite materials for environmentally friendly and cost-effective solid-state lighting, direct conversion of heat to electrical power and thermoelectric refrigeration. He is a fellow of IEEE and the Materials Research Society.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Tim Sands (2011), "What Next for Public Research Universities?,"

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