February 12, 2013— Washington, D.C. – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson tonight released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Serving 217 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and education-related organizations, APLU is the nation’s oldest higher education association. Member campuses enroll more than 3.6 million undergraduate and 1.1 million graduate students, employ more than 670,000 faculty and administrators, and conduct nearly two-thirds of all university-based research, totaling more than $34 billion annually.
“I was very pleased to hear President Obama speak so enthusiastically this evening about the need to invest in research, much of which occurs at our public and land-grant universities. The President clearly understands that a strong federal commitment to research at our universities is directly linked to our nation’s ability to provide economic opportunities for our citizens.
“With sequestration looming less than three weeks away, those research universities are facing an enormous threat to their continued success and the American economy is at risk of harming an important driver of innovation. Unless President Obama and Congress come to an agreement to avert sequestration, federal funding for research and development will lose approximately $10 billion this year and more than $90 billion through 2021. This would reduce GDP by about $330 billion with 200,000 fewer R&D jobs over just the next four years.
“Public universities provide very high value to their graduates. Despite dealing with reduced state funding at the same time their enrollments have increased, public universities have worked to keep costs down through a variety of steps, including streamlining administrative processes and consolidating or eliminating courses and programs. Public universities have an obligation to provide value, contain costs, and achieve high graduation rates that result in a well-educated workforce. Public universities will continue to work to reduce costs while they strengthen quality. As part of that process, we will carefully study the President’s proposal when it’s released.”
The Science Coalition was very pleased to hear the President emphasize in his State of theUnion address the fundamental role that science and innovation play in driving the economy. As the President said, investments in research are “job-creating” investments. While research accounts for a tiny percentage of the overall federal budget, science-driven innovation has fueled as much as half of all U.S. economic growth since World War II.
Today, America’s research institutions are making huge strides in tackling the nation’s greatest challenges in health care, energy, the environment and defense. We join the President in his goal to “reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race” and we urge Congress to end the budget sequester now. Sequestration not only threatens our ability to reach this goal, but would reduce research spending to historic lows.
As the nation works to kick our economy into high gear, now is the time to invest more – not less – in the basic scientific and medical research that will produce the discoveries, innovations and talent to ensure our strong future.