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University Presidents Warn Obama, Congress of 'Innovation Deficit'

Friday, August 02, 2013 - 03:30 PM

Stony Brook University in New York, pictured here, signed a letter to Congress asking for funds for research. (spyffe/flickr)

Facing federal budget cuts to the funding for research grants, 165 university presidents published a letter to President Obama and Congress warning of an “innovation deficit” that could threaten the economic strength of the nation.

The letter, signed by colleges across the country and including local schools like The City University of New York, Columbia University and several State University of New York schools, pointed to growing competition from other countries which are funneling more money to research at a higher rate than the United States.

"Having witnessed this nation’s success at turning investments in research and higher education into innovation and economic growth, countries such as China Singapore and Korea have dramatically increased their own investments in these areas … Our nation is rapidly losing ground, and further cuts, including sequestration, will only exacerbate the problem," the letter said.

Samuel Stanley, president of Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY, said has noticed more students choosing more lucrative applied research positions in companies over research science jobs. "That’s a problem for us,” said Stanley. “Because it’s basic research that fuels innovation."

Stanley said an estimated $2.3 million in cuts have been made in SUNY Stony Brook research budgets, and he expects these cuts to grow. Still, he said he hoped that Congress and Obama will turn their attention back to more fully funding research universities for the sake of economic recovery.

"More than half of U.S. economic growth since World War II is a consequence of technological innovation, and that results to a large degree from federally-funded research," Stanley said.

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