UNIVERSITY PARK – Nearly a dozen research university and business leaders, including Penn State President Graham Spanier, will be in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to discuss efforts to repair the damage caused by a lack of federal investment in science and technology.
Spanier, who is chairman of the Association of American Universities (AAU), will join the leaders of Duke University, the University of Chicago and the University of Maryland as well as others, along with industry leaders, to express their serious concern for the need for critical investment in basic research and for strengthening science and mathematics education nationwide.
“The issue of funding for our universities’ research endeavors is vital to our nation’s future and we need to refocus our attention to that area,” said Spanier. “America’s universities have been the source of tremendous innovation and discovery, changing the world for the better. We need to continue to build on our successes and we need federal investment to remain competitive. Our trip to Washington will let our concerns be heard more clearly.”
This visit by some of the nation’s leaders in higher education follows on the heels of Congress’s and President George Bush’s failure to fulfill previous commitments in these areas that had been promised through several initiatives, such as the America COMPETES Act and the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative. While the initiatives essentially proposed to double funding over 10 years for basic research at the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the final fiscal year 2008 federal appropriations legislation did not follow through with the promised investments, according to AAU. With the recent release of the 2009 fiscal plan by President Bush, which marks the start of the budgeting process, university and industry leaders decided to head to Washington to reiterate the importance of these critical investments.
The visit to the Capitol is a joint effort by AAU and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC). AAU is an organization representing 60 of the nation’s most prestigious research universities as well as two major universities in Canada. NASULGC is the nation’s oldest higher education association, representing 215 member institutions and more than 3.6 million students.