UAH adds a front door to campus for economic development support

rayvaugn

Dr. Ray Vaughn now heads an expanded office, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPRED).

Michael Mercier | UAH

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) has expanded the scope of its research office to the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPRED) to acknowledge the office's broader economic roles at the state, regional and local levels.

"It's an obvious fit," says Dr. Ray Vaughn, who heads the OVPRED. "Research universities offer many advantages to companies that are considering relocating to our area and to companies that are already here and are considering expansion. Research universities produce not only technology that is of use to the commercial sector, but also students, research projects, research laboratories, partnership opportunities for grants and contracts, and access to highly specialized faculty. It's a win-win."

The new organizational title is reflective of the myriad economic development activities the office is involved in and undertakes annually.

"Huntsville's advanced economy requires knowledge-based technologies that rely heavily on a highly educated workforce and research," said UAH President Robert Altenkirch. "As such, it is important that intellectual development and knowledge be emphasized to provide our region with an advantage in economic development. UAH is an institution of higher learning that fits that role and the vice president for research is where that responsibility exists."

Research universities produce not only technology that is of use to the commercial sector, but also students, research projects, research laboratories, partnership opportunities for grants and contracts, and access to highly specialized faculty. It’s a win-win.

Dr. Ray Vaughn
UAH Vice President for Research
and Economic Development

UAH's research office has been a focal point for economic development support for the state of Alabama and the region, including a vital role in bringing a $6 million, 400-job Boeing Co. research center to Huntsville.

Earlier last month, Aerojet Rocketdyne said it is opening a rocket propulsion development office in Huntsville and adding 100 jobs to its local workforce. One reason cited by Aerojet executives for locating the office in Huntsville was its close proximity to the city's academic resources.

The university is also supporting state and regional manufacturers on campus by developing the Southern Alliance for Advanced Vehicle (SAAV) Manufacturing Center and the Advanced Composites in Transportation Vehicles (ACTV) Center to collaborate on advanced manufacturing techniques, processes and materials.

"The university has always had economic development responsibilities and has worked with economic development organizations in the area and across the state for years," says Dr. Vaughn. "We do have amazing resources at UAH, including the Office of Technology Commercialization, the Small Business Development Center, the Center for Management and Economic Research and a number of programs that support faculty and student engagement with industry."

The change provides a more direct path for business and industry to connect with the university on economic development.

Dr. Vaughn said this is an important change so that anyone visiting our web site or looking at our organizational structure will immediately see a contact point for this vital activity. "This does not mean that the Office of Research is solely responsible to all economic development activity at the exclusion of others at UAH," Dr. Vaughn says. "We have many offices engaged in various aspects of economic development support and they will, of course, continue to do so. The change of title allows my office to act as the entry point and to let others know that we have an initial point of contact at UAH to coordinate our support."

Economic development is a role with which Dr. Vaughn is familiar. As the associate vice president for research at Mississippi State University (MSU), he worked closely with MSU's associate vice president for economic development. The pair fostered close ties among MSU, the Mississippi Economic Development Authority and local economic development organizations, as well as coordinating with the MSU College of Business to support those organizations.

"I would expect to do the same at UAH," Dr. Vaughn says. "We want to be seen as a valued and willing partner for all state and local economic development activities. We have always been a strong supporter of these efforts and we will continue to do so."


Contact

Dr. Ray Vaughn
256.824.6100
ray.vaughn@uah.edu

Jim Steele
256.824.2772
jim.steele@uah.edu

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