|illustration: Christiane Grauert|
To take off on the old saying about the three most important things in real estate (“location, location, location”), in this case it would be that we need help with “faculty, faculty, faculty.” For all of the expert faculty identified above, what we are sorely lacking is more expert faculty. In every school and college of UB, there is a shortage of faculty. Moreover, SUNY’s research universities are smaller than other major research universities in the country.
So the ranks are thin, and faculty need to be replaced. Easier said than done, as times have certainly changed in the business of hiring faculty. These days, recruiting top scientists requires a strategic approach of cobbling together state money (always scarce), private money (scarcer after the Dow bust) and internal money (what’s that?) to create attractive recruitment packages.
Gone are the days when faculty jobs were so scarce that you went out to celebrate when a university even called you for an interview. These days it’s a seller’s market where scientists come armed with sophisticated facilities, salary and technical support requirements (and sometimes lawyers) that, if they’re any good, you can rest assured every other state is willing to give to them. And holding on to talented scientists is a constant challenge.
What this creates is a lengthy and expensive process of hiring and retaining talented scientists, the very scientists we need in order to swiftly develop the nation’s technical needs in this time of crisis.
Sorely needed, then, are fast, flexible (and stable) dollars from New York State to bring the best and the brightest here to UB to work as part of transdisciplinary teams to tackle these complex questions, and to avoid a brain drain of the scientists we already have.
We need teams such as cultural anthropologists, behavioral and political scientists to understand terrorist-supporting cultures and behaviors. Teams of vaccine, pharmaceutics and immunology experts to develop first-line bio-defense. And, for example, teams of linguists, computer programmers and artificial intelligence experts to develop accent recognition and speech analysis capabilities.
Real law enforcement agents need the most advanced capabilities that scientists and engineers can produce. Yes, scientists can make us safe. We just need more of them.