Describe the importance of public libraries.
I often run past the UIUC underground library, and one day I stopped to read the words inscribed on the stone wall: “Let this be a holy place for the human spirit consecrated to the forces which magnify the soul,” and, “Books are alive to the man who knows how to use these sources of inspiration and power.” The clarity and truth in these quotes has made a lasting impression on me and emphasizes so well the importance of libraries.
Describe your background and what you bring to the board.
My background is a combination of engineering, entrepreneurship, and writing/editing. I have served on many for-profit and non-profit boards, so good governance is a special interest of mine. My family has lived in the same house for 30 years only blocks from the CPL, so this library has played a special role with our family and my kids growing up.
Tell us a little bit about your family, pets, etc.
My wife Karen and I have been married 42 years. We have three children and three granddaughters. I’m an avid runner, tennis player, golfer, traveler, reader, writer, and tinkerer.
What have you read, watched, or listened to lately?
Read: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Watched: The Golden Globes, mostly to see and hear the comedy genius of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I listen to NPR just about all day, every day.
Sitting there in the meeting this morning and my mind wandering a bit (been doing that since first grade), I thought: “When/if the research grant goes away, what happens?”
Does the Research Center just go poof, everybody blowing away in the breeze to a new position, some repotted at the University in various departments; some going out to private industry; some retiring?
Then I thought about everything that is inside these walls. If you draw a box around this place and call it “Proprietary Intellectual Property (PIP),” it’s market value as a going concern is substantial when you include:
- Documents in general
- Calculators, algorithms, rules-of-thumb
- Archive of reports
- Processes and procedures
- Everything that’s on the web site: content, pictures, videos
- Curriculum, courseware, workshop and presentation materials
- Marketing and general collateral materials
- Database(s) and data
- Product info, specs, costs
- The Center’s collective rolodex of professional, industry, governmental contacts
- The Center’s brand identity and goodwill
- The Center team and their collective expertise and experience
- Continuing access to the best students
In a shutdown scenario, who “owns” the PIP? The University? The Funding Sponsor? Would either even be interested?
The big idea I’m left with is you could develop a business plan for the inevitable and at that time, license out the entire PIP by mutual agreement with the University and/or the Sponsor, and reboot the Center as a commercial enterprise. If you chose to do it big, you could attract some equity capital to fund startup costs for space, equipment, and competitive industry salaries, benefits, etc.
And that begins a whole new story.
“Our short-sightedness has led to major challenges — dependence on oil, climate change, health care, and national security — that threaten our economy and quality of life. Each challenge also brings opportunities — if we give innovation the attention it deserves.”
Science for the people, by the people.