Students, too

Most of the students directly affected by industry-university relationships are at the graduate and postdoctoral levels. William J. Smith, a leader of the graduate students' association at Stanford, says he and his peers are most concerned about professors with split commitments (between campus and company) and those who ''follow the money,'' that is, choose research topics for which they know either government or industry dollars are available.

In a recent lecture which was one of a series at UC-Davis on ''Industry/University - Benefits/Hazards,'' Mr. Smith said one way industry transfers knowledge to the commercial sector is by hiring graduates; a faster way is to ''hire the professor.'' Even better, said Smith, is faculty entrepreneurship - getting the professor, with his new knowledge or inventions, into the company as part-owner or major stockholder.

Having research directly connected to a company's needs, Smith explained, makes students feel they are ''being used.'' And, he asserted, this is a problem that universities are, ''by default, ignoring.''

To protect the interests of students, William Smith of the Stanford graduate students' association suggests full disclosure of faculty members' outside commitments, grievance procedures which students can follow when they ''sense something wrong'' in a research arrangement that affects them, and university guidelines that make a strong distinction between industry and university research, perhaps including a ''noncompetition'' clause in faculty contracts.

He urges that other universities follow the practice of Harvard and MIT, whereby a faculty member's grant agreement with government or a corporation must be reviewed and approved by his department.

Smith further proposes ''committees on extramural affairs'' made up of faculty, student, state, administration, industrial, and public members. Such a group would formulate and promote a code of conduct, establish grievance procedures, supervise the peer review process, and serve as a ''disclosure clearinghouse.''

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.