Today, the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education held a hearing to examine the opportunities and challenges faced by the nation's research universities. Witnesses discussed the future outlook for these universities and the findings of a recently released National Academies study, Research Universities and the Future of America, which had been requested by Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX).
"Innovation has remained a part of the fabric of this Nation since its founding,"noted Subcommittee Chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL). "Particularly in today's tough economic times, research universities play a vital role in America's ability to maintain its competitiveness in an increasingly technologically developed world, and the knowledge and skills produced by our nation's research graduates provide the fuel for these endeavors."
A number of representatives from the nation's research universities are in Washington, D.C. celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act and attended today's hearing. The hearing provided an opportunity for a broader discussion about how these universities affect national prosperity. Signed into law by President Lincoln, the Morrill Act partnered the federal government and states to build land-grant institutions in an effort to create a modern agricultural and industrial economy for the 20th century. This partnership continues today, supporting the nation's educational, research, and economic endeavors.
Dr. John Mason, Associate Provost and Vice President for Research at Auburn University, discussed the importance of research. "Relevant fundamental research is that which industry can apply to innovate, create or improve products and services, and, ultimately, create jobs." Dr. Mason discussed efforts at Auburn to partner with federal agencies and American business and industry "to accomplish objectives of national need." Discussing the major challenges Auburn faces, Dr. Mason noted the "regulatory burdens placed on all recipients because of what appears to be the improper actions of a few."
The nation's research universities provide the backbone for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce essential for U.S. prosperity. These universities not only contribute to the academic researchers who work to move basic scientific research forward but also those who comprise the STEM-related workforce in the country.