University forms committee to find new VP of Research


CW File

Camille Studebaker

The University of Alabama is commencing a national search to fill the position of vice president for research and economic development. Carl Pinkert, who has held the position for the past four years, is stepping down, effective Dec. 31. 

A 10-person search committee has been selected to oversee the search process and help a hired search firm. 

Susan Carvalho, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School, who will facilitate the committee, said the group was appointed by the University’s provost with representation from the faculty senate. 

“We wanted to make sure that the search committee reflected a range of disciplines and also included faculty, staff and a student member,” she said.  

Carvalho said the University offers one of the best opportunities for a vice president for research and economic development candidate due to President Stuart Bell’s strategic plan that she said puts research expansion first. 

“As UA continues its rapid expansion that has become so nationally visible, the VPR can open doors to hiring top faculty and bringing in or increasing the visibility of major research projects with state funding or national or global funding,” Carvalho said. “The position facilitates the scope and impact of research across the campus by helping to hire top researchers and set up the kinds of labs and programs that make them successful.”

Keisha Cook, a graduate student in mathematics and committee member, said graduate students do a lot of research, so she hopes to find a vice president of research and economic development that is able to provide funding. Cook serves on the Graduate Student Association, and they have had funds awarding graduate students to go to conferences. She said they need to see more funds available for graduate students to afford to attend more conferences and more resources in terms of future faculty development. 

“[The position is] important  for UA because it’s a research university, so whatever level you’re on – faculty, graduate student or undergrad – there still needs to be opportunities to advance in each position, and I think that this position, the VP of Research, is very important in advancing everyone in whatever future endeavors they’re going toward,” Cook said.  

Although the committee has not met yet, Cook said she thinks they will all collectively have good input in finding the new vice president.