July 31, 2013
Alarmed by budget cuts to research and higher education at a time when other nations are increasing their investments in these areas, Tulane University President Scott Cowen joined 160 other university presidents and chancellors in signing a letter requesting leaders in Washington take action. The letter, published in the influential Washington, D.C. publication Politico, asks leaders to close the “innovation deficit” – the widening gap between the country’s needed and actual investments in research and education.
The letter says more federal investment in research and education will lead to innovation and technologies that will power the nation’s economy, reduce the budget deficit and maintain the global leadership of the United States.
“The federal government’s partnership with universities has, to a great extent, built our country as we know it today,” Cowen said. “We need a continued commitment to this partnership in order to grow our economy and improve the lives of our citizens.”
More than half of U.S. economic growth since World War II is a consequence of technological innovation, much of which is the result of federally funded research at universities. This includes vaccines, lasers, MRI, touch screens, GPS, the Internet and more. Over the past two decades investment by the United States in research and development has been outstripped by China, Singapore and South Korea by two to four times.
Congress faces critical budget decisions in the coming months including annual funding bills, the debt limit and measures to address spending cuts forced by sequestration. The letter notes that targeted investments in research and higher education are key sources of long-term economic growth and fiscal stability.
The 160 universities represented in the letter are all members of the Association of American Universities and/or the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
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