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Chancellor Katehi, national university leaders urge politicians to close innovation deficit

July 31, 2013

Linda P.B. Katehi, chancellor of the University of California, Davis, today (July 31) joined other university presidents and chancellors across the country in calling on political leaders in Washington to increase investment in research and education and close the “innovation deficit.”

In an open letter to President Obama and Congress published today as an advertisement in Politico, the presidents and chancellors wrote that closing the widening gap between needed and actual investments in research and education — the innovation deficit — is a national imperative. Investments in research and education lead to innovation and new technologies that power the nation’s economy, create jobs, and reduce the budget deficit while ensuring the U.S. maintains its role as global leader, they said.

“The vast majority of U.S. innovation in science and technology begins in university research labs. Robust funding for university research, and therefore continued innovation, is essential to maintain America's leadership in the world,” Katehi said.

Innovative research has led to life-saving vaccines, lasers, MRI scanners, touchscreens, global positioning systems, the Internet, and many other advances that have improved lives and generated entire new sectors of our economy. Economists have attributed more than half of U.S. economic growth since World War II to the consequences of technological innovation, much of it resulting from federally funded scientific research conducted at U.S. universities.

“Throughout our history, this nation has kept the promise of a better tomorrow to each generation,” Katehi and colleagues wrote in the open letter. “Failing to deal with the innovation deficit will pass to future generations the burdens of lost leadership in innovation, economic decline, and limited job opportunities. We call upon you to reject unsound budget cuts and recommit to strong and sustained investments in research and education.”

Over the past two decades, other countries, notably China, Singapore, and South Korea have dramatically increased their investments in research and higher education, reaping the same benefits that past investments have produced for the U.S.

Congress faces critical budget decisions in the coming months. Annual funding bills, the debt limit, and measures to eliminate or modify the deep across-the-board spending cuts forced by sequestration could all be taken up this fall. Targeted investments in research and higher education can and should be made regardless of overall funding levels because they would be key sources of long-term economic growth and fiscal stability, the signatories argue.

The 165 universities represented in the letter are all members of the Association of American Universities and/or the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. UC Davis is a member of both organizations.

The open letter, including a list of all of its signers, can be seen here.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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