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Distinguished Lecture Series    

University Research Commons - Fostering Interdisciplinary Research

Dr. Elizabeth A. Unger

Vice Provost for Academic Services and Technology and
Dean of Continuing Education
Kansas State University

Friday, September 29, 2006
Talk: 10:00 am - 11:00 am
1225 Engineering

Host: L. Dillon


Barriers to interdisciplinary research include communication at a personal level and provision for technical and subject matter assistance. The concept of a Commons is a physical place where researchers can go to use expensive IT equipment and to gather to talk informally. The Commons have technical assistance for both fundamental IT and for research software, data, and use. The basic idea of the assistance is to leverage faculty time and gain efficiency in the use of technical staff across the university.
Seminars and special demonstrations continue to draw individuals to these areas. It took little time to have them become a place for the generation of new solutions to interdisciplinary research problems. Several research grants have been funded from the two-year-old GIS commons and two or three grant proposals submitted as a result of new collaborations from the months old Humanities Commons.


Elizabeth A. Unger, Vice Provost for Academic Services and Technology, Dean of Continuing Education, Professor of Computing and Information Sciences at Kansas State University is an engineer, mathematician and computer scientist. She holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Mathematics from Michigan State University. A Ph.D. was earned from the University of Kansas in Computer Science in 1978.

From 1959-1961 she worked with IBM on such projects as the first automation of the assembly line of Oldsmobile resulting in a custom built car every 13 seconds; and the automation of the control systems gas and electric power systems for Consumers Power Company in the State of Michigan. She served as Director of User Services at the Computing Laboratory at Michigan State University from 1961-1966

At Kansas State University she served as Associate Director and Acting Director of the Computer Center from 1966-1974 and has been a Professor of Computer Science since the department's creation. She was the Associate Dean of the Graduate School from 1990-1994 and has served in her current position as Vice Provost and Dean since then.

She serves on the Great Plains Network Board, the Information Technology Advisory Board of Kansas, and on the visionary group for Kansas Education Network (Kan-Ed).

Current interests involve using technology as a tool to support the university in the information age including organized university information systems, distance and life-long learning, digital libraries, and digital technology transfer. Institutions of higher education are facing many challenges today including the shift to student orientation, funding, competitive environments and the need to actively leverage their information resources.