Parks chosen as VP of research

By By Ryan Shelton

By Ryan Shelton

U Professor Thomas Parks’ resume just got a little longer.

The longtime neurobiology and anatomy professor and executive director at the U’s Brain Institute was named the new vice president of research Friday.

Parks had been acting as interim vice president of research for six months, and was among several candidates vying for the full-time job of being in charge of research at the U.

He takes on the job while the U continues to grow in stature as a major research university, collecting $322 million in research funds during the 2007 fiscal year and spinning off 17 new companies based on faculty technology innovations.

“For me, the excitement is to help continue the forward momentum and improvement of the university,” Parks said in a statement. “I’ve been at the university for 30 years, and the place has gotten steadily better in terms of the research and quality of the faculty. It’s exciting to have an opportunity to contribute to forward movement on the research front.”

But Parks’ new job will require him to step down from his position at the Brain Institute, which he helped establish.

“I’m not just going to drop it,” Parks said. “But it has the possibility to be a conflict of interest. I’ve got to have an equal interest in equipping every research program at the U.”

The office of the Vice President for Research oversees all research and research funding at the U. It ensures that researchers comply both in practice and in the process of applying for and receiving grants. The office also helps researchers find outside grants, where the increasingly competitive world of federal funding requires persistent salesmanship.

“Tom is a talented administrator and leader,” said Monica Vetter, acting chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy-a position she took when Parks became interim vice president. “He has tremendous knowledge and experience through his years of service at the university, and he has a vision for how to build achievement and excellence on this campus.”

Parks said that although his responsibilities have not changed, the “interim” status that preceded his job title limited his ability to make significant changes and long-term plans for research at the U.

Parks has already outlined nine key areas he wants to improve, which include promoting the research accomplishments of U faculty, enhancing competitiveness in grant proposals and upgrading research facilities.

But because Parks’ new position is full-time, he may have to give up one of his favorite pastimes.

“I’m really going to miss teaching,” Parks said. “That’s the hardest part about this whole thing–I really love teaching.”

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Thomas Parks