To Do Research or Not to Do Research

A few months ago, I road up to Rexburg ID with my son who was taking my granddaughter for the start of her freshman year at Brigham Young University – Idaho.

One of the activities was the university president explaining to parents the goals and the functions of BYU-I.  I wondered about the president’s bragging that the school’s faculty was dedicated to teaching, and not research.  I guess BYU-I profs are immune from the “publish or perish” syndrome common at most universities.

While this might be a defensible position, I wondered how the faculty stays current in their fields if they aren’t involved in some form of research?  And research frequently provides excellent training and learning opportunities for students.  The apparent substitute for research at BYU-I is internships.  But internships would seem to be more about addressing the status quo, while research is very much about defining the future.

Two months later, many of my family members were in East Lansing MI to attend the BYU/MSU football game.  As part of our family activities, we visited the MSU Biochemistry Departmart.  My father was head of the department at it’s beginning and was very proud of its accomplishments. It continues to have an impressive international reputation.

We spent over an hour with the current department head.  He was very generous in his praise of our father (grandfather and great-grandfather).  It was important that family members hear this insightful information about their heritage.

My brother asked the DH about undergraduate research.  He indicated that it is an important activity for students and a critical part of their training.  His answer was in sharp contrast to the statements made by the BYU-I president.  I’m with the MSU DH.

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