A New Grand Bargain to Ensure Preeminence of US Research Universities

In a new report published by the National Research Council, increased funding to research universities was identified as critically important to maintaining their global preeminence, and a “grand bargain” was suggested that would involve academia, government, and industry in increasing support, cutting costs, training more scientists and engineers, reducing regulatory burden, and forming more partnerships.

Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation’s Prosperity and Security is the result of a two-year long study undertaken in response to a request from Senators Lamar Alexander and Barbara Mikulski
and Representatives Bart Gordon and Ralph Hall, a bipartisan group seeking a follow-up report to the National Academies’ 2007 report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, which formed the basis of the America COMPETES Act.

The report highlights the need for a strong partnership between universities, federal and state governments and industry. Increased funding to universities is critical to maintaining global preeminence. State and federal governments and industry will need to provide that funding, and in exchange universities will need to improve management, productivity and cost efficiency in both administration and academics.

Over all, the panel’s goals for changes by universities, businesses, and governments may be too optimistic, said Lou Anna K. Simon, president of Michigan State University, who was not a member. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Ms. Simon said. A truly worthwhile goal, she said, is “never viewed as realistic.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]

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