Coal Tattoo

WVU tries to distance itself from faculty research

WVU President James Clements

Just got this fascinating email message from my good friend John Bolt, a former Associated Press newsman now working as director of public relations for West Virginia University:

Dear Ken:

I wanted to share with you a statement we recently developed about research of all kinds conducted at West Virginia University.

The statement, which was not developed in reaction to any particular research being conducted on campus, is an effort to explain the role of research at an institution such as WVU and clarify that the institution itself takes no position on the findings – except in the sense of supporting a researcher’s right to do research and reach supportable conclusions.

The findings of any particular research project do not reflect, nor should they, any particular opinion or position of the University itself.

Here’s the statement:

Faculty members at West Virginia University have an obligation and responsibility to conduct research. It is part of WVU’s mission as a land-grant university to gather and analyze data and then contribute this analysis to inform the discussion and understanding around various issues affecting the lives of West Virginians and others around the world. WVU’s research strives to be data-driven, objective and independent. It is not influenced by any political agenda, business priority, funding source or even popular opinion. WVU faculty follow accepted academic practices, and those research findings are subject to intense review and challenge by academic peers – including review of data sources, methods and analysis. This doesn’t mean everyone agrees with the findings, but assures the process followed to reach those findings is valid and unbiased. Accordingly, WVU stands behind its researchers’ quest for knowledge as they help society address the issues which confront it.

Accordingly we’re asking those who write about our faculty’s research to refrain from describing those as a “WVU study” or using other phrasing that would imply or could be interpreted as the institution taking a position on any particular issue. Other phrasing might be “a study conducted at WVU,” or “a study by WVU faculty member …”

Thanks for considering this approach.