"BACK TO SCHOOL" is a student and faculty ritual each fall. But what happens if your school — and your entire city — has been devastated by a hurricane? How do students and faculty members cope when their schools are so damaged that they can't when open for an entire semester? In August, Hurricane Katrina displaced 100,000 college students and caused significant damage to 15 Gulf Coast institutions. Our cover story investigates the aftermath of this terrible disaster and focuses specifically on how Tulane University and the University of New Orleans (UNO) are struggling to survive. The good news is that schools across the nation have reached out to help. Students and faculty have been taken in by other institutions with tuition waived or deferred until financial situations are sorted out. Generous offers of office and laboratory space, equipment and even housing for faculty and graduate students have been forthcoming.
Profiled this month in Prism is W. Kent Fuchs, dean of the College of Engineering at Cornell University (my alma mater). In "Divine Intervention," Fuchs reveals that he had studied for the ministry but along the way realized that teaching, not preaching, was his true calling. He took his doctorate in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he served on the faculty before leaving to head Purdue's electrical and computer engineering school. In 2002, at the age of 47, Fuchs became dean at Cornell, heading up the largest engineering program in the Ivy League. Fuchs believes that engineering can and should be used to dramatically improve the quality of life worldwide.
Many agree that if the Patent Reform Act of 2005, introduced in June, is adopted as law, it will substantially change the way patents are gained and maintained in this country. One controversial reform would award patents to the first person to file with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. This is a change from the current system, which grants patents to the first to invent. Our article "First to File" considers whether or not this legislation could place small companies and independent inventors and universities at a disadvantage.
I think you will find these stories
highly interesting. The cover story
is our take on what you've seen
on the nightly news. And the potential
impact of patent reform on intellectual
property is worth thinking about.
I would, of course, be pleased to
hear any comments or thoughts you'd
care to share.
Executive Director and Publisher