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Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
February 7, 2006
DeKalb, Ill. — The head of an international research center based in Greece will become the new director of the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) at Northern Illinois University.
David A. Stone, 44, originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, will take his new post in late March. He brings to NIU extensive experience in interdisciplinary research, both as an investigator and program manager.
NIU's Office of Sponsored Projects is responsible for informing faculty of external funding opportunities, helping faculty develop new research and public service projects and assuring that NIU grant proposals meet governmental guidelines.
“This is a key position,” said Rathindra Bose, NIU vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School. “Public universities cannot thrive on tuition and state subsidies alone, so it is important that we accelerate the growth of our external funding for research, which informs the teaching of our professors and provides real-world learning opportunities for our students.
“David Stone is a complete scholar with a stellar record of attracting grant money for his own research and of helping others develop creative and successful interdisciplinary projects,” Bose added.
Stone said he is looking forward to continuing the momentum already established by Sponsored Projects. The university submits about 500 grant proposals annually and last year brought in a record $60 million in external funding. Former OSP Director Linda Schwarz retired in December.
“Under Dr. Bose's leadership, Linda Schwarz and her staff significantly increased the level of funded research over the past few years,” Stone said in an interview via e-mail. “Since they have gotten the ball rolling, any changes that I may look to make—for example, putting more OSP support closer to the action in specific schools or departments—will be much more manageable and likely to succeed.
“It also is very heartening to me that NIU brings in nearly as much money for public service programs as it does for research,” he added. “This is an ethos that I very much share.”
Stone holds a Ph.D. in technology and society from Boston University, where he also earned a combined bachelor's and master's degree in forensic psychiatry studies. All of his academic training was in a special interdisciplinary program.
“My training led me to see that each discipline, each perspective, has inherent blind spots and limitations,” Stone said. “That's a lesson that I have tried to incorporate in all of my subsequent work, either by taking a multi-disciplinary approach to questions and problems myself or by working in multi-disciplinary teams wherever possible.”
Since 2003, he has served as founding director of the South-East European Research Centre, an international research center and think tank jointly established by the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and CITY College in Greece.
His primary tasks included assembling 14 international interdisciplinary research groups, which served as the core of the center's activities. The effort required working with faculty, deans, university presidents, politicians and business and non-governmental organization leaders to facilitate the development of robust and workable research agendas.
Stone also served as an associate professor at CITY College and as the director of sponsored research at the American College of Thessaloniki. Prior to working in Europe, he held numerous academic and administrative appointments, notably as director of research at the Fenway Community Health Center in Boston, director of the Boston Violence Prevention project at the Harvard School of Public Health, and as associate director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Health Research Center at the Tufts University School of Medicine.
Stone also was founder and director of the BostonCares for Injured Youth program, developed to reduce the risk of re-injury to Boston youth who had been victims of violence. He has served as a principal investigator for a number of nationally funded studies and has numerous publications in the areas of public health, health services, health policy, political science and philosophy.
Stone said friends and colleagues urged him to explore openings at larger universities, but he believes genuine efforts to work across disciplines can be more difficult at those bigger institutions.
“I am very drawn to the scale of NIU,” he said. “My sense is that the university is large enough to be a nationally and internationally important player in terms of its research and program output, while at the same time understanding itself to be an open and integral intellectual community. And the fact that research at NIU is strong not only in physics and engineering, but also across the liberal arts and the humanities, also made the position here very appealing.”
With competition for external dollars becoming more intense, Stone sees significant challenges ahead for his office.
“The OSP will need to be a proactive part of a university-wide process to develop signature programs in both research and service that set NIU apart from the competition,” he said. “This will become especially important if the share of funds from private donors and international funding sources is to make up for gaps and shortfalls in federal support.”