what are we going to do

Doug Yanega dyanega at DENR1.IGIS.UIUC.EDU
Tue Oct 22 14:12:24 CDT 1996


In one of a pair of very disturbing messages, Anita Cholewa wrote:
>
> In line with the U. of Mich., the Univ. of Minnesota has
> decided to go to "value-centered management" in which each
> dept./unit will be charged for the space it occupies.

This is the beginning of the end, if the trend catches on. I'll bet there
isn't a museum in ANY of the Universities out there that can generate
enough profit to pay for their space requirements. Worse:

> It has already been suggested to us
> that we charge researchers for the cost of mailing loans.

What will almost certainly happen then is that researchers will simply
stop using the U of Minn. collections for research, and obtain loans only
from places for which they don't have to pay fees. This will make it even
harder for any such institution to generate the profit needed to maintain
itself. Even worse:

> We tried to charge for remote access to our vascular database
> but NSF told us we wouldn't be able to obtain their funding
> if we did such a thing.

And as more museums start charging fees - forced to by their
administrators - then NSF will offer *less* support, not more, and it
will become even harder to maintain these collections. Another reason why
NSF is not the answer to our problems.

> With decreasing monies being spent
> on herbaria (and other biological collections) by administrations
> and outside agencies saying we can't charge for anything where
> does that leave us.

Up a creek, clearly, as neither the administrations nor the funding
agencies are likely to be persuaded to do anything simply for the good of
science or society.

> I think some serious PR is definitely needed
> here.  Non-taxonomy researchers must somehow be made to under-
> stand our importance to their work.  We have been silent (or
> at least we haven't shouted) for far too long outside our own
> community.

PR intended to persuade who to do what? Administrators to forego concerns
of profit? No amount of PR can accomplish that. NSF to completely alter
its funding policies? Ditto. Unless there is some way to get folks to
*make exceptions* to their rules to accommodate for research collections
and activities within them like alpha taxonomy, we are doomed, because we
cannot compete when we are judged on the scale of profit rather than
utility.
Sincerely,
Doug Yanega




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