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June 6, 2013

Jerzy T. Sawicki named VP for research

By Doug Vehovec

On May 15, 2013, Cleveland State University appointed Dr. Jerzy T. Sawicki as vice president for research.  Dr. Sawicki, a full professor at CSU since 2001, is a well-known researcher in the field of dynamics and advanced control technologies applied to structures and machines.

Dr. Sawicki holds a doctorate in mechanical & aerospace engineering from Case Western Reserve University.  He also earned two master’s degrees – in mechanical engineering from the Techinical University of Gdansk and applied mathematics from University of Gdansk – in his native country of Poland.

“My main goal is to support those who do the research at Cleveland State,” Sawicki said of his appointment.  “This includes faculty, and also students. We are behind the scenes helping to make others successful.”

Part of the behind the scenes work includes awarding funds for research across a wide range of disciplines.  CSU is recognized nationally as a research-based institution.  The National Science Foundation, or NSF, collects data each year from more than 1000 universities nationwide to generate this ranking.  The Office of Research recently awarded nearly $290,000 to student and faculty research projects.

“We are in the first 20 percent of universities in the U.S. in terms of externally funded research based on NSF ranking,” Sawicki said.  “This is also a great benefit to students.  They appreciate being able to take courses from professors involved in research, that refer to their own research in lectures.”

In addition to faculty, CSU offers research funding for graduate students as well.  The Office of Research works with the College of Graduate Studies for development and funding.  For these endeavors, Dr. Sawicki will work closely with the Dean of Graduate Studies.

“The Office of Research has programs that really support graduate faculty, who direct and advise graduate students,” Dr. Jianping Zhu, Dean of Graduate Studies, said.  “We work together to provide support.  We have a common mission.”

Both the Office of Research and the College of Graduate Studies share an interest in projects they want to support.  This creates opportunities to benefit the university.

“Because of previous collaborations, this gives us the opportunity to find other projects on which to work together,” Zhu said.  “Dr. Sawicki is interested in supporting faculty who work with graduate students.”

Research at CSU is not limited to only faculty and graduate students.  Undergraduates are encouraged to get involved with research as well.

“We would like to engage students in research and inquiry at the undergraduate level,” Sawicki said.  “And we would like them to continue in our graduate programs.”

Beyond the benefits provided CSU, Sawicki is keen to point out who he believes is the greatest beneficiary of research endeavors.

“First of all our community, and society as a whole,” Sawicki said.  He cites the work being done by Antoine van den Bogert, the Parker Hannifin Endowed Chair in Human Motion and Control, whose research at the Fenn College of Engineering advances “smart” prosthetic limbs.  “Research in health sciences and biomechanics, for example, affects our quality of life.  Many of our stakeholders are also involved with research.”

With his experience as a researcher, professor, and administrator, Sawicki understands the needs of these stakeholders, who include sponsors and alumni.  He hopes to leverage his position to communicate and market CSU research to them.  He identified three goals to accomplish this.

“First of all, streamlining our processes and improving the efficiency and responsiveness of research administration,” Sawicki said.  “Then, increasing and supporting collaborative and interdisciplinary research efforts, including partnerships with industry and non-profits. Next, increasing externally sponsored research. And lastly improving technology transfer and commercialization activities.”

“I want to do this right, and do a good work for our students, faculty, and the university.  We have great students here who are eager to learn, and be successful.  I am committed to doing as great a job as I can.”