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History of CPBIS


The Paper Industry in North America is in the midst of a period of tumultuous change, and has expressed significant interest in seeking the new knowledge and understanding it needs to adapt and prosper. That this interest is shared by other Industry observers was made clear when the Sloan Foundation approached the Institute of Paper Science and Technology (IPST), in recognition of that institution's well-established and close relationships with the Paper Industry, to invite a proposal for a Center that would provide insight into the workings of the industry and generate knowledge that is of value to its leaders. The utility of such a Center would be enhanced by the high degree of commonality among the issues being faced by different companies, and by the logic of a collaborative effort to obtain information needed to address their complex and costly problems.

In response to the Sloan initiative, IPST and its sister institution, the Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT), immediately began collecting information to support a joint effort for development of a Center proposal. The first step in the process was to conduct a survey of Paper Industry Leaders to explore the industry's interest in the creation of a Center for Paper Business and Industry Studies (CPBIS). As noted, the industry's response was supportive of this idea. The second step in the Center proposal development process was to survey the Industry and the GIT/IPST academic community to determine needs and expectations for such a Center. Congruently, these discussions with Industry leaders also served as the genesis for the proposed research direction of the Center. After the research themes and project selection criteria were established by the IPST/GIT joint development team, guided by the advice of the Paper Industry, an RFP was issued and broadly distributed throughout both institutions.

The RFP produced an unprecedented amount of interest and collaboration between the two institutions. Over eighty faculty members from GIT, IPST, and other area universities representing nearly two dozen different disciplines responded to the RFP with the submission of nearly three dozen proposed research projects. These proposed projects were then reviewed for their pertinence to the current needs of the Paper Industry and the research themes established congruently with the Industry, and the degree to which they were multidisciplinary and feasible. These proposed projects were then accepted, rejected, combined with complementary programs, or revised. The resulting research agenda was then offered to Paper Industry Leaders for their assessment, opinions, and suggestions.

At the same time, and in close collaboration with the development of a proposed research agenda, faculty from GIT and IPST developed a vision and implementation plan for providing the educational functions of the proposed Center. Fundamental to the missions of both IPST and GIT is the recognition that the generation of knowledge must involve both faculty and students - that in the long run, the mission of both institutions is successful only to the degree that they prepare students to be leaders in their professions. By building primarily on existing educational programs, designing appropriate new courses and non-classroom learning experiences, and developing innovative uses of informational technology for a variety of learners, the Center will produce graduates who can quickly implement the changes that they have identified through their research activities, their coursework, and their interaction with the Paper Industry.

IPST, GIT, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Paper Industry have created a unique partnership to create an academic intellectual community that understands the Paper Industry and uses a direct approach to the companies and people of the Industry for data and observations. This direct observation-based work by well-informed academics, as counseled by the Industry, is expected to lead to answers to critical issues and questions that will impact the Paper Industry's survival in the new reality that it faces in the new economy and the new millennium.


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