Thomas Ross, president of the UNC system, also signed the letter.
“This letter really represents a national perspective on the part of higher education,” said Paul Hassen, vice president of public affairs at the APLU.
He said the decision to send the letter came from a discussion that many university presidents were having about federal spending cuts to university research.
“The (university) presidents wanted to let Congress know that investments in research and higher education are vital,” he said.
According to the letter, leaders in higher education want to emphasize the importance of a university education, scientific research and innovation for America’s economic growth.
University Chancellor Holden Thorp said he agreed with the letter’s message.
“Continuing to focus cuts on domestic discretionary spending would significantly harm universities,” he said. “The federal government needs to be investing in student financial aid and basic research, not cutting it.”
Thorp was approached about the letter by Miles Lackey, director of the UNC Office of Federal Affairs.
Lackey said he believes students have sacrificed enough with federal cuts to student financial aid and research.
“Students have faced a net loss of $4.6 billion in the past year,” he said. “It’s difficult for me to get excited about that. There’s got to be some shared sacrifice here.”
UNC-W Chancellor Gary Miller contacted the APLU and asked to be added to the list of chancellors and presidents supporting the letter.
“It is imperative that chancellors and presidents step up during this critical time in our nation’s history … to help stop the loss of opportunity we are seeing for young Americans to receive a college education,” Miller stated in an email.
The deficit “super committee” is not anticipated to respond to the letter. If it does not reach a decision by Nov. 23, a $1.5 trillion cut will be effective Jan. 1, 2013.
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