The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 3rd

Committee on Research Universities discusses maintaining research efforts despite economy

Many university and corporate leaders from across the nation met in Washington, D.C., last week to discuss future goals to maintain and improve research efforts.

The Committee on Research Universities, which is formed by the National Research Council, met to discuss ways of maintaining research during the economic downturn. The committee is also in the process of conducting a report that shows how the government and research universities can better work together.

Leaders from universities such as Stanford University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and University of Michigan attended the meeting.

“The committee provides findings about the current health and competitiveness of research universities and looks down the road to see where universities should be at that point,” said Peter Henderson, the director of the Board on Higher Education and Workforce.

The final signed report is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2011, he said.

Henderson said there is an important partnership between research universities and the federal government that dates back to the World War II era.

After the economic downturn, Henderson said, per-student state appropriations decreased, and many research institutions fear a bigger drop in the coming years.

With ongoing budget cuts in agencies that fund research, competition between universities to obtain funds has increased, he said.

But UNC has been able to stay competitive in the fight for funds.

Barbara Entwisle, interim vice chancellor for research and economic development at UNC, said the University is able to maintain research funding from government agencies because of its competitive researchers.

Statistics compiled by Doug Dibbert, director of the General Alumni Association at UNC, show that federal grant and contract money has increased over the past years, Entwisle said.

Between the 2008-09 school year and the 2009-10 school year, the University has had a 12 percent increase in research funding.

“The story at the federal level is economic. We are looking at some lean years here in-state and also at the federal level, so no one knows yet what that is going to mean,” Entwisle said.

She said budget cuts at the University’s research agencies often means a five to 10 percent cut in research at UNC.

Bryan Richardson, a fourth-year graduate student in the pharmacology department, said he hasn’t seen any decreases in research funding at UNC.


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