University appoints new URSA director

Meghann Anderson
Staff writer

David Eaton, will take over the position as the new coordinator for the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity on January 1 after a semester long search.

Eaton, who is a professor of economics and finance, will begin the part-time job as coordinator to help the program gain new ideas and practices.

Bonnie Higginson, vice president of academic affairs, said Eaton has been involved with undergraduate research studies for a number of years under the guidance of John Mateja, who founded the program more than 10 years ago.

The program advisory board was the search committee for the new coordinator and was led by Renae Duncan, associate provost for undergraduate education.

Jody Cofer, academic program specialist, said Eaton will be promoting undergraduate research in all academic areas and will assist with managing the vision and growth of the program.

He said Eaton will exercise administrative oversight to make sure the program is following the correct policies and procedures and will serve on the advisory board as a representative for URSA.

Cofer said Eaton has a desire to do more with faculty development, and to familiarize them on how they can mentor undergraduate students in research.

“Dr. Eaton will do a lot with educating people on URSA and getting the word out there about how to do research,” Cofer said. “Dr. Eaton will be working to expand professional development and implement the best practices to those who have not usually participated in the program before.

Cofer said the URSA board has heard more faculty members express an interest with helping an undergraduate conduct research, but they don’t know how it works because they have never participated with it before.

“At this level we are doing so much, but not clear how we get to the next point,” Cofer said. “We need new ideas and new programs.”

Eaton has background with mentoring undergraduates and is familiar with the undergraduate research program.

“I am very proud of the work that URSA has done in providing funding for undergraduate research and scholarly activity as well as outlets for students to present their work,” Eaton said.

Don Robertson, vice president of student affairs, said the program is important markets so students know those options are out there.

“It is very important and very significant at our University, we have a program that encourages undergraduates to be involved in research which will enhance their credentials,” Robertson said. “Another positive reason would be the opportunity to do hands on research.”

Eaton said he would like to see URSA, in partnership with other groups on campus, provide assistance to faculty members to help make these experiences as beneficial as possible for the students.

“I hope URSA will continue to expand opportunities for undergraduates of all disciplines to have meaningful, mentored research experiences,” Eaton said. “I also want to see us expand mentored scholarly activities in academic colleges where those types of experiences may not be seen as part of the traditional learning model.”

Eaton said he would like to see students across campus become more involved in research and scholarly activities earlier in their time at the University.

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