Created by on 12/03/2010

A National Research Council committee charged with examining the financial, organizational, and intellectual health of the U.S. research university held a public meeting in Washington, DC on November 22nd. In its charge to the Committee to Study Research Universities, Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD), Senator Lamar Alexander (TN), Representative Bart Gordon (TN), and Representative Ralph Hall (TX), asked the panel members to assess:

What are the top ten actions that Congress, the federal government, state governments, research universities, and others could take to assure the ability of the American research university to maintain the excellence in research and doctoral education needed to help the United States compete, prosper, and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the 21st century?

The committee invited representatives from universities, government, and professional associations to discuss three areas of interest: 1) university finance and management, 2) funding and organization of academic research, and 3) human capital issues (doctoral education, postdoctoral training, and doctoral careers, and demographic trends).

Howard Garrison, director of FASEB’s Office of Public Affairs, was invited to participate in the focus group on human capital issues. In his remarks, Dr. Garrison described the deteriorating conditions of academic employment. With research scientists increasingly dependent on the federal science budget for salaries, equipment, and laboratory space, anything that takes funding from the competitive grant budgets will terminate research careers and reduce our capacity for innovation. As more courses are taught by part-time, adjunct faculty the educational quality also declines. Garrison warned that efforts to rescue the research universities should not take scarce dollars from competitive research grant budgets, the lifeline of increasingly beleaguered faculty members. The academy study is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and is scheduled for release in May, 2011.