Vice president for research returns to KSU

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Opening of Centennial Research Park, emphasis on research promote West’s return

John West, vice president for research and dean of graduate studies at Kent State, speaks at the dedication ceremony for the Centennial Research Park and the FLEXMatters Accelerator June 8, 2007. Jeff Gudden | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

John West returned June 30 from a year-long leave of absence as vice president for research and dean of graduate studies.

During his absence from Kent State, West worked for FlexMatters initiative, a regional collaboration among universities, companies and research organizations, to develop and manufacture flexible liquid crystal displays and optical devices.

Liquid crystal displays are currently produced using glass and silicon, but West hopes the university’s collaboration will be first to print displays on flexible plastic films.

West mentioned the implications for liquid crystal television displays.

“Eventually, this big piece of glass you hang on the wall would just be a shade you pull down,” he said.

“Our goal is to stay on the cutting-edge of that — manufacturing these new products to keep the lead in that industry.”

FlexMatters Accelerator is the anchor for the university’s recently opened Centennial Research Park, which brings companies together to manufacture these flexible products.

The opening of the research park was the culmination of West’s work.

“That was the capstone event of my leave, and then I came back to my VP position,” he said.

West said the biggest change at Kent State since he’s been gone is the arrival of President Lester Lefton and, recently, Provost Robert Frank.

Lefton started the day West left: July 1, 2006. Both Lefton and Frank have put a renewed emphasis on excellence in research and scholarship, he said.

Physics professor Peter Tandy took over for West during his absence. He said one of the changes during the past year was that the department of research and graduate studies will now be responsible for undergraduate research.

“There will be opportunities for undergraduate students and their faculty mentors to apply for a small amount of funding,” Tandy said.

Tandy said the first steps have been taken to allow all undergraduates, as opposed to just honors students, the opportunity to conduct research.

West said the transition back to his position hasn’t been difficult.

“It’s been relatively straightforward,” he said. “I realized personally how much I enjoy multitasking.”

Contact academics reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].