President Christina Paxson

U.S. universities call for renewed national commitment to research, education

July 31, 2013  |  Media Contact: Mark Nickel |  401-863-1638
Presidents and chancellors at 164 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities released an open letter today to President Obama and members of the 113th Congress, urging them to address the nation’s growing “innovation deficit.” “Investments in research and education are not inconsistent with long-term deficit reduction,” the educators wrote, “they are vital to it.” Brown University President Christina Paxson joined colleagues nationwide in signing the letter.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University President Christina H. Paxson joined presidents and chancellors at universities across the nation today, sounding an alarm about the nation’s widening innovation deficit and calling for effective action.

One hundred and sixty-four U.S. educational leaders, representing all 50 states, issued an open letter to President Obama and members of the 113th Congress, pointing to the erosion of federal investments in research and higher education and additional cuts due to sequestration — at a time when other nations of the world are pouring resources into these areas. More than half of U.S. economic growth since World War II has come from technological innovation “overwhelmingly resulting from federally funded scientific research,” the educators wrote.

During the last two decades, the university leaders wrote, China, Singapore, and South Korea have dramatically increased their investments in research and higher education, having seen the enormous benefits such investments have had for the U.S. economy. The rate of growth of U.S. research and development investments has been outstripped by those of China, Singapore, and South Korea by two to four times during that period.

“We call upon you to reject unsound budget cuts and recommit to strong and sustained investments in research and education,” they wrote. “Only then can we ensure that our nation’s promise of a better tomorrow endures.”

The 164 universities represented in the letter are members of the Association of American Universities and/or the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

The letter is online at www.innovationdeficit.org.

“Cities and towns across the country understand that federal investment in research and higher education is an important driver of local economies,” Paxson said. “Innovation-driven economic opportunities attract and retain new generations of talented leaders and a highly skilled workforce, building economies and improving opportunity for everyone.”

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