Top officials of the nation’s leading public research universities are in Washington this week and planning to go talk to members of Congress to urge them to restore research funding lost through sequestration.
“Investing in this sort of fundamental and applied research that goes on at universities is so key to near and especially mid and long-term economic vitality of our country,” Chris Brown, vice president for research and graduate education for the University of North Carolina system, said on Monday during a meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in Washington.
Brown said it’s “not a smart approach” to keep the across-the-board cuts in place as a way to solve the nation’s fiscal problems.
The UNC lost about $50 million over the past year because of the sequester. Congress has another eight years of the across-the-board cuts ahead by law if budget negotiators can’t reach agreement. Talks are now under way on next year’s budget.
Elson S. Floyd, president of Washington State University, said that sequestration already has had “devastating impacts” on the nation’s colleges and universities, especially research universities. Support for research is down, and with that go related jobs that are needed in the economic recovery, Floyd said.
“But the most chilling aspect of it are the long-term implications,” he said at a news conference about the cuts on Monday. “While we can make some adjustments in the short run, long-term it’s going to be impossible to do that.”
Chancellor Philip DiStefano of the University of Colorado, Boulder, said that the automatic spending cuts in research were “cutting away” a 70-year partnership between the federal government and universities that has resulted in such achievements as the space program and the mapping of the human genome.
Asked at the news conference if public research universities already were seeing a loss of faculty and graduate students to private or foreign universities, Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley replied, “I think we’re already seeing some of that. We’re very fortunate that the United States still represents probably the premier destination in the world for science. But we’re seeing competition.”