By: Byron Hoskinson – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton Research Institute’s top administrator will wrap up his 21 year career as a de facto Flyer Wednesday and step down from the helm of the university’s research arm.
Mickey McCabe, UD vice president for research and UDRI executive director, will depart the university Wednesady, following his recruitment by a Texas research center, according to a Sept. 18 email sent from university president Dan Curran to faculty and staff.
While McCabe prepares for his term as executive director at the University of Texas-Arlington Research Institute, the leadership of UDRI will transition to John Leland, the institute’s director since 2005 and associate vice president of research since 2013, Thursday.
Following McCabe’s 2005 promotion from UDRI director to executive director, the research institute has seen marked change and growth in both its impact on the university community and the career opportunities it has made available to UD students.
UDRI officials said McCabe has been indispensable to the development and current state of the institute and credited him with bringing several of UD’s notable partnerships to campus, further establishing UDRI as a nationally competitive research center.
UDRI receives more than $90 million in annual research contracts, according to statistics published by the university’s office of institutional reporting.
In recent years, the institute has been awarded contracts in the fields of sustainable engineering and aerospace technology, with major contractors such as General Electric and the U.S. Air Force, alongside other federal agencies, collaborating with UD to establish high-tech projects and facilities on campus.
Beth Keyes, vice president for facilities management, said McCabe’s leadership guided many of the institute’s developments over the past decade, including its relocation to larger facilities, its establishment of new partnerships and major contracts, and the expansion and diversification of research opportunities and career experiences for UD students.
“[McCabe] spearheaded the gradual transition of UDRI from Kettering Labs to the 1700 S. Patterson building,” Keyes said.
The institute’s move to the newly renovated 500,000-square-foot facility — the former NCR world headquarters, purchased for $18 million by UD in 2009 — was one of McCabe’s greatest accomplishments as it enabled previously disparate research departments to more effectively collaborate on projects, she said.
Keyes also credited McCabe with facilitating UD’s partnership and contracts with GE, including GE Aviation’s Electrical Power Integrated Systems Center, a $51 million state-of-the-art laboratory constructed on campus in 2013.
“GE was very much McCabe’s relationship,” Keyes said. “He brought them to our campus and is responsible for the synergy between UDRI and the EPISCenter.”
At the EPISCenter, UD “researchers and students work side by side with GE Aviation scientists and engineers to create new advanced electrical power technologies such as new power systems for aircraft, longer-range electric cars and smarter utility power grids for more efficient delivery of electricity,” according to the EPISCenter webpage.
While UDRI has continued to focus on aerospace and military engineering contracts, it has also expanded to offer research experience to students outside of engineering disciplines.
In July, Emerson Climate Technologies announced its intent to build a “global innovation center” on UD’s campus to “advance research and education for the global heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry,” according to a university news release.
The proposed 40,000-square-foot facility will employ 30 to 50 researchers and have an area for classrooms, according to the news release.
Keyes said the Emerson facility will enable students from a broad range of disciplines, such as dietetics and marketing, to gain hands-on research experience through UDRI and its partners.
More than 200 students currently participate in research programs through the institute; a number UDRI officials say they hope will continue to grow as UD works to attract more research partners and develop more high-tech facilities on campus.
Leland said the research institute directly impacts the quality of the university and the experience of UD students.
“Raising research on campus contributes to UD’s stature as an educational institution,” Leland said.
Fellow UDRI researchers and administrators said McCabe will be missed for the energy, vision and humor he brought to the institute.
“He had a vision of how to grow the research institute as a business,” Keyes said. “He had a wonderful sense of humor and made work fun.”
UDRI office administrator Danita Nelson said she has worked with McCabe for 14 years and will remember him for his warmth and diligence.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, [McCabe] treats each individual with respect and kindness,” Nelson said.
Leland said his predecessor’s administration was successful due in part to the positive environment he cultivated at UDRI, which he called “encouraging, motivating and trusting.”
“Mickey was a great promoter of research at UD,” Leland said. “But he was an even bigger promoter of people.”