Release Date: May 25, 2012
Statement from E. Bruce Pitman, PhD, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, University at Buffalo:
The University at Buffalo views academic freedom as a core principle. Faculty members are free to conduct research on any topic, including controversial ones, and to disseminate their findings without prior review or approval by the university. The university's role is to create a forum for objective research and informed debate--not to dictate the positions taken by its faculty members.
Under this principle, the findings presented in a recent report produced by the Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI) are the work of the authors, and any conclusions drawn are their views, not the views of the institution. Any questions related to the analysis and interpretation of the data must be referred to the authors.
The College of Arts and Sciences formed the Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI) in April 2012, with the goal of providing scientific research and analysis on all sides of the issues surrounding shale gas.
This topic is important and timely, and the work of such an institute is fully consistent with the university's mission of teaching, research and public service.
On May 15, the institute released its first report, "Environmental Impacts During Marcellus Shale Drilling: Causes, Impacts and Remedies."
In the days since, some criticisms of the authors' conclusions have been raised. UB will examine all relevant concerns, in accordance with the university's strong commitment to academic and research excellence.
There also have been questions raised about funding for the institute and for the report. UB has received no industry funding for SRSI. The institute's expenses and the salary of its part-time director, John P. Martin, have been paid entirely by the College of Arts and Sciences using discretionary funds, which come from sources that include indirect cost recovery from research grants, investment income and unrestricted gifts.
The University at Buffalo remains committed to conducting research and providing opportunities for public debate on subjects of vital importance, including questions related to shale gas, other alternative energy sources and the environment.