A Chance to Turn an Urban University Into a Research Powerhouse

Johns Hopkins U.

January 21, 2013

Victor R. McCrary

Age: 57

New job: Vice president for research and economic development at Morgan State University, a historically black institution

Previous position: Manager of emerging technology and innovation at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory

Highest degree: Doctorate in physical chemistry from Howard University

In 2010, when I was working at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab as the business area executive for science and technology, I met the president of Morgan State University, David Wilson, at a National Science Board awards dinner, and we talked about research. He was very engaging.

Fast forward to the spring of 2012, when I received a call from an executive-search firm. They told me that my name had come up for a newly created position at Morgan: vice president for research and economic development. During a series of interviews, I met with Dr. Wilson, and I was very impressed with his vision for the university and with his strategic plan.

I remember thinking, "I have learned and accomplished much here at Hopkins. I've been blessed with almost 30 years of skills that I've learned from top research institutions, and now was the time to give back."

One of my key goals is to increase Morgan's level of external research funds to elevate our Carnegie classification from "doctoral/research university" to "research university—high research activity." I want to build a culture of entrepreneurship among our faculty. How do we capture the ideas and innovations that Morgan is generating so it can have a positive impact on the local community as well as the growth and economic vitality of Baltimore City and the surrounding region? If I can be successful in those efforts, it will help me in my long-term goal toward someday being a university president.

I would like Morgan to be the heart of an "urban Silicon Valley." I want that kid who may be an underrepresented minority, who may not have gone to a private school, who may not have an iMac on his desk—I want him to come to Morgan as a way to make his ideas for starting a new business come alive.

I came to Morgan because of President Wilson and the potential that Morgan can offer. I truly believe that Morgan has the elements to become an exemplary institution that will demonstrate to historically black colleges and universities a new model to thrive in this day and time. I did all I could at Hopkins. Here's a chance to build something new from whole cloth. Here's a chance to make a difference.

—As told to Audrey Williams June