Santa Fe Institute hits hard times

The linkurl:Santa Fe Institute; (SFI), a 24-year-old collaborative research center in New Mexico, is tightening its belt in anticipation of continued market instability and a curtailment in donations to support its work. Physicist and SFI director linkurl:Geoffrey West;http://www.the-scientist.

By | October 31, 2008

The linkurl:Santa Fe Institute; (SFI), a 24-year-old collaborative research center in New Mexico, is tightening its belt in anticipation of continued market instability and a curtailment in donations to support its work. Physicist and SFI director linkurl:Geoffrey West; told __The Scientist__ that, while the budget of the institute is in no immediate danger of evaporating, administrators there thought it prudent to freeze all linkurl:staff; salaries, suspend planned renovations to a central conference room, and renegotiate the fees paid to visiting scientists, workshop attendees, and speakers. "We decided we should do a preemptive strike and brace ourselves for potentially bad news," linkurl:West; said. "This situation with the bottom falling out of the market really might have a potentially big impact on us." The non-profit linkurl:Santa Fe Institute; is particularly vulnerable to a sagging economy, West explained, because about two thirds of its funding comes from private sources - individual donors, corporate gifts, etc - with the other third coming from government grants. SFI's 2007 total revenue was more than $11 million, according to a spokesperson from the institute's development office. A slew of donors has bestowed gifts of more than $100,000 on SFI in the past. These include the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and a foundation in the name of Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pamela. With a global recession looming, West said that the institute had to do "some serious cutting here and there." The conversation in SFI's boardroom, West said, went something like this: "We should really not wait until we see the whites of their eyes and we're in panic mode," he said. "Let's act now while we're still relatively comfortable." West said that he hopes the salary freeze at SFI - the most drastic measure the institute took - will not last long and that further cuts will not be necessary. In the meantime, West said that he expects raising new money from new donors to become difficult, but that even with the corners being cut at SFI, the linkurl:science; coming out of the center will not be affected. "The philosophy is we will try to make every possible effort to keep the level of scientific activity pretty much the same." "It's a work in progress," West said. "I'll keep my fingers crossed." __Correction (posted November 3): When originally posted, this article mistakenly referred to the Santa Fe Institute as a 34-year-old research center. It is, in fact, 24-years-old. __The Scientist__ regrets the error.__


Avatar of: john toeppen

john toeppen

Posts: 52

October 31, 2008

It was not clear from the article what they do there.
Avatar of: Alison McCook

Alison McCook

Posts: 68

October 31, 2008

Hi there-\nThe Santa Fe Institute conducts multidisciplinary research. Here's a quote from its homepage:\n\n"The Santa Fe Institute is devoted to creating a new kind of scientific research community, one emphasizing multi-disciplinary collaboration in pursuit of understanding the common themes that arise in natural, artificial, and social systems."\n\nThanks!\n\nAlison McCook\nDeputy Editor\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

October 31, 2008\n
Avatar of: Charles Wood

Charles Wood

Posts: 1

November 2, 2008

A couple of comments on your remarks concerning the potential impact of the present financial crisis on the Santa Fe Institute (SFI):\n\nYour headline "The Santa Fe Institute hits hard times" is misleading and perhaps a better one might have been something like "The Santa Fe Institute tightens its belt". The implication that we've already hit hard times is inaccurate. Thus far, we have had no explicit retraction from major donors. Nevertheless, given the uncertainties of the economic climate, it would be imprudent of us not to position ourselves to be prepared for potentially tough times ahead. Like many research institutions, including most major universities and institutes, we depend upon private sector funding. As such, the belt-tightening exercise we are contemplating now should be viewed as a preemptive action so that we do not have to act precipitously should the situation worsen. We hope, of course, that our proactive measures will be temporary. They will be carefully monitored and we will be prepared to rescind, continue, or increase those measures as conditions dictate.\n\nOur guiding principle is to minimise any impact on the level of scientific activity. This is of even greater importance right now as it becomes clear that many of the most challenging problems we are facing, including those presented by financial markets and risk, require serious transdisciplinary collaboration under the umbrella of the burgeoning science of complex systems, where SFI is recognised as having a preeminent role. \n\nFinally, I should point out that SFI was founded in 1984 and hence is 24 years old, and not 34 as the original post states.\n

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