Mega-universities might be what it takes to solve mega-societal and biomedical problems, but maybe we should just try to do a better job of connecting dots at multi-campus universities already in place.
In an effort to be globally competitive and create more impact from research, the University of Paris-Saclay has consolidated 18 research and academic institutions. I'm impressed with the boldness of their effort, since I have no clue what the person across the hall from me is doing, let alone someone in another building.
Mega-universities might be what it takes to solve mega-societal and biomedical problems, but maybe we should just try to do a better job of connecting dots at multi-campus universities already in place. Here are some suggestions to roll out at multi-campus research universities:
1. Better, more convenient transportation between one campus and another.
2. University-wide reciprocal parking privileges.
3. Data pipes that are not clogged or restricted.
4. A university-wide faculty research directory.
5. Better, cheaper, desktop and mobile videoconferencing systems.
6. A master course catalogue so the same courses are not being offered and four different places.
7. A “teaching with technology” or “best practices” website for intercampus collaboration. The great part is that someone has already built the platform at trelliscience.com.
8. A university-wide asset map describing equipment available to other faculty to eliminate waste.
9. Better transfer pricing between core labs.
10. Better integration of government labs, like NIST, NREL, NOAA, etc.
Imagine leaving the center of the Left Bank, passing by your favorite pattisserie to take the Metro to the burbs to go to work, when you could sit sipping your cappuccino comparing databases on your mobile device. Scientists and engineers at Sanofi and GE Healthcare are willing to make that sacrifice, but I'd rather work as part of a virtual collaboratorium than a mega-science city...if only I could. Mon Dieu.