Bill Bruneau, in his editorial "Creeping Privatization Threatens Autonomy" (Bulletin, January), raises issues which many academics are currently turning over in their minds. The evidence is certainly in for "monopolies for on-campus services and the 'sale' of a university's name to support fund-raising," especially when one looks south of the border.
Of course the onus to address these issues on a continuing basis is on those dedicated to research and interested in generation of knowledge leading to application for the benefit of human kind. In the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries in North America, there are numerous directors of research controlling university collaborations who are champions of funding fundamental work.
That this fundamental work is related, to a higher or lower degree, to an ongoing drug or herbicide program is recognized by the university researcher who must: decide if he is only being a service scientist; judge if the work may lead to completely unrelated, basic, and publishable research; and attempt to mediate the industry-university office of research interaction for a fair letter of agreement.
Much is at stake but it is always a two-way street. Industrial scientists recognize they are dependent on the well of fresh ideas and results from university researchers who, in turn, must be flexible and ingenious in proposals which will be of mutual benefit.
Chemistry, University of Waterloo