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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hart, university leaders address need to fund research

    Innovation is a word that is synonymous with the United States.

    We put a man on the moon, delivered new avenues for worldwide communication and have manufactured some of the most efficient weapons the world has ever seen. Recently, however, it seems politics and the bureaucratic nature of larger organizations are creating hurdles to hinder innovation.

    In March, after Congress failed to reach an agreement on debt reduction, it entered into sequestration, which is automatic budget cuts of about $1 trillion to areas such as social services, job creation and education and research funds.

    The sequester — along with funding limitations and our rising debt debate — is damaging America’s future by cutting education and research funds. Things don’t look good with Washington D.C.’s inability to get anything done and America’s advancement being put on hold.

    This country has gone leaps and bounds because of its innovation and much of the research regarding technological advancements is done at our universities. To help illustrate the importance of research and education, a group of college presidents and chancellors, including UA President Ann Weaver Hart, wrote an open letter to Congress, urging them to close the “innovation deficit.” The letter is clear how important innovation has been to the United States and warns of the potential decline, if not properly addressed.

    “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,” the letter says. “We call upon you to reject unsound budget cuts and recommit to strong and sustained investments in research and education. Only then can we ensure that our nation’s promise of a better tomorrow endures.”

    It also goes on to point out the alarming fact that over the past two decades, China, Singapore and South Korea have passed the United States when it comes to research and higher education funds.

    According to an article by UANews, “Economists agree that more than half of U.S. economic growth since World War II is a consequence of technological innovation, much of which results from federally funded scientific research conducted at U.S. universities. Such groundbreaking research, the university leaders noted, has led to life-saving vaccines, lasers, MRI, touchscreens, GPS, the Internet and many other advances that have improved lives and generated entire new sectors of our economy.”

    Hart said in a statement provided by the president’s office, “The innovation deficit is jeopardizing our nation’s role as the world’s innovation leader. It is caused by the combination of eroding federal investments in research and higher education, additional cuts due to sequestration, and the enormous resources other nations are pouring into these areas.”

    Hart also added the same could be said for the campus, “One of the key pillars of our new strategic plan, “Never Settle,” is innovation. Innovation creates jobs, sustains economies, and improves quality of life.”

    Though the letter from university leaders didn’t present a specific solution, at least someone is attempting to reach the ears of our lawmakers. This is a step in the right direction.

    Finding a solution to ending the sequester won’t be easy, especially with the daily gridlock that is Washington D.C. But if there is one thing Congress should be able to agree on, it’s that America needs to support the vitally important future of research on our campuses in order to continue its path of innovation.

    — Brian Peel is a senior studying history. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or via Twitter @WildcatsOpinions

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