Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



UND vice presidential candidate says in economic development, it's who you know

Part of turning university research into economic impact is who you know, said John Sladek, a candidate for UND's vice president for research and economic development.

Part of turning university research into economic impact is who you know, said John Sladek, a candidate for UND's vice president for research and economic development.

He advises a Cincinnati venture capital firm, he said, and it's not always true -- as is often assumed here -- that venture capitalists are only interested in products that are ready for market.

Connections and networking play a key role in the early phase of research, he said, citing the example of bioscience breakfasts that the University of Colorado in Denver holds with venture capitalists.

But, he said, he sees faculty as scholars foremost, and he'll support faculty entrepreneurship where it supports scholarship. Economic development is important, he said, but he doesn't think it's meant to be the primary responsibility of the vice president job.

Sladek, a professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at the University of Colorado, spoke at a public forum Monday as part of his interview process.


He previously served a year as president and chief executive at California Lutheran University and, before that, was vice chancellor for research at the University of Colorado.

Sladek has a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., a master's degree in biostructure from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and doctorate in anatomy from the Chicago Medical School.

He taught at the University of Rochester in New York and the Chicago Medical School before coming to Denver.

Defining roles

Like another candidate, Grand Forks native and UND alumna Phyllis Johnson, Sladek has ties to UND. In this case, he knows university President Robert Kelley.

Both were chairmen of anatomy at about the same time and had met at professional conferences. Sladek later chaired an advisory board at the University of Wyoming's College of Health Sciences when Kelley was dean there.

A faculty member asked how Sladek would serve as a vice president under Kelley. Sladek said that, having served as vice chancellor, he respects the chain of command and recognizes that, in the end, the president has to make the final decision.

He also indicated he would like to be both vice president and researcher should he get the job. One faculty member suggested that would be tough, considering the demands of the vice president's job, but Sladek replied that he's done it for decades.


Humanities support

Like other candidates, Sladek was asked about his regards for the humanities, whose faculty is anxious not to be overlooked by any new vice president for research because all the candidates come from a scientific background.

Sladek, having read Herald coverage of the grilling other candidates received, came prepared. He had a slideshow that included his understanding of the grants available for humanities researchers and wildlife photos that he's taken, demonstrating that he has an artistic side.

One faculty member asked if Sladek would consider paying researchers to take time to ponder. Typically, the university might pay for things such as access to archives or lab equipment but not for something as abstract as thinking.

Sladek said he's not opposed to the idea if there were funding available. "Everything doesn't have to be chemistry."

Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send e-mail to ttran@gfherald.com .

What To Read Next
Get Local