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ERIC Number: EJ1016502
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1195-4353
Clark Kerr's Multiversity and Technology Transfer in the Modern American Research University
Sigurdson, Kristjan T.
College Quarterly, v16 n2 Spr 2013
In the early 1960s, Clark Kerr, the famed American educationalist and architect of the California public higher education system, took up the task of describing the emergent model of the contemporary American university. Multiversities, as he called them, were the large powerful American universities that packaged the provision of undergraduate, professional and graduate education and focused intensively on research production. Kerr was describing the model of the Anglo-American research university that had emerged in the U.S. during the first half of the 20th century. This model shared or had borrowed characteristics with older models for how a university is constituted and how it interacts with society, but it was also a novelty in a variety of ways. One of the major differences between Kerr's university model and those preceding it was that instead of having one central animating idea, the multiversity had many. One of the uses of the multiversity that has gained prominence over the past three decades in particular is the transfer of technology and research for industrial use and economic growth. This university function has risen in importance in conjunction with the emergence of the knowledge economy (OECD, 1996) and the increased recognition that universities are of central importance to economic growth, competitiveness and industrial innovation as part of complex national systems of innovation (Dill & van Vught, 2010). While few universities were engaged in substantial efforts at research commercialization or technology transfer when Kerr was writing his book "The Uses of the University," nearly all universities are doing so now, to varying degrees of success (Phan & Siegel, 2006; Geiger & Sa, 2008). Five decades after Kerr's landmark book, it is opportune to assess how the technology transfer "use of the university" fits into Kerr's model today, and how the widespread appearance of technology transfer offices (TTOs) may be changing the structure and functioning of the contemporary university and of society. This paper explores the ways that the evolving commercialization mandate for research and its most important related structure, the TTO can be understood with reference to the multiversity and its historical antecedents. It also seeks to advance understanding of how TTOs may affect the internal balance of power in the multiversity. It employs as a specific historical example the University of Wisconsin, known to have one of the oldest and strongest technology transfer offices (Geiger and Sa, 2008).The first section traces the historical evolution of university models that build up to Kerr's model of the multiversity. Next, the TTO is defined and contextualized. Finally, the University of Wisconsin's TTO, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is introduced and some examples of its powerful role within the university, and more broadly, are provided.
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology. 1750 Finch Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario M2J 2X5, Canada. Tel: 416-491-5050; Fax: 905-479-4561; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Wisconsin
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A