Teaching Research Institute becomes “The Research Institute at Western Oregon University”
October 1, 2015
Expanding support for innovative research at Western and beyond
As Western Oregon University (WOU) enters its first year governed by an independent Board of Trustees and a new university president, TRI has been called upon to help expand the university’s national standing in research and innovation.
TRI in President Fuller's Address
In President Rex Fuller’s first address to faculty and staff on September 16, 2015, he said that “[o]ne of Western’s historic strengths is its external grants and sponsored research... Comparing Western to its peers, WOU generates a greater percentage of its funding from external grants than its counterparts. This is in large measure due to the success of The Research Institute, as well as faculty and staff throughout the university.”
This summer Dr. Fuller approved a request to rename the Teaching Research Institute to The Research Institute at Western Oregon University with the express goal “of seeing our success in securing outside funds continue to grow.”
The name change
After more than 50 years of being Teaching Research, the name has been changed to more accurately reflect the breadth of the work already being done, and to establish its crucial relationship with the entire WOU campus.
TRI’s director, Dr. Ella Taylor, expressed her excitement with the change. “As we examined the expertise that exists among our staff, the wide variety of projects we have in-house and our current partners, it is clear we have grown far beyond the ‘Teaching’ in Teaching Research Institute,” Taylor said. “We now have the capacity to support a broad range of research topic areas and therefore serve the entire university community.”
Teaching Research (TR) was founded in 1961, to “use research and technology to improve teaching and learning in mathematics and science.” Its first funding came from the National Defense Education Act, passed in direct response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik. The Space Race was on, and the national focus was on winning it.
Fewer than ten years later, Congress passed the Primary and Secondary Education Act, which included the creation of the Federal Head Start program and a growing interest in education for “handicapped learners.” TR expanded its focus to early childhood education with an emphasis on inclusive environments for children with disabilities.
The Sesame Street connection
Through this early work, TRI would influence the national perspective of early childhood education, as its own Dr. Edward L. Palmer created the foundational principles that would guide the Children’s Television Network, producers of Sesame Street and The Electric Company.
Jumping ahead 40 years, Oregon and the nation have expanded their
view of attaining educational excellence by considering the whole child/the
whole person, including looking at the family structure, and considering
emotional and physical health. In that same time, TRI had also expanded.
With Project Executive Function (a study to assess executive function in babies born low birth weight) and the Qigong Massage Research Project (examining the positive effects of Qigong massage on children with autism), TRI is deep in the field of health. With WOU–CASA (the national campaign Campus Against Sexual Assault) and Traffic Safety Education (leading the Driver Education Instructors program for the Oregon Department of Transportation), it has expanded into the realm of public safety and human services—and all this while keeping its deep and historic focus on education.
The Research Institute at Western Oregon University
After 54 years, Teaching Research, which later became Teaching Research Division, then Teaching Research Institute, is acknowledging all it has to offer in the areas of research and grant support. Welcome to The Research Institute (TRI) at Western Oregon University.
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