WASHINGTON, D.C. – University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., participated in the National Research Council Committee on Research Universities’ panel today (June 14) to discuss a new report on the future of U.S. academic research.
Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation’s Prosperity and Security, a congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council, recommends 10 strategic actions the nation should take in five to 10 years to preserve top-quality American research universities. It conveys the critical challenges that threaten the quality of research and education and the need to renew a crucial partnership between the federal government and universities.
A co-author of the report, Cigarroa spoke of the role of research universities and their role in advancing medicine. “Many of the great schools of public health are in our nation’s research universities,” he said. “The future of medicine not only in the United States but globally is going to be centered on the powerful work of America’s research universities.”
According to the report, American research universities are essential for U.S. prosperity and security but are in danger of serious decline unless the federal government, states and industry take action to ensure adequate, stable funding in the next decade. As trusted stewards of public funds, universities must also meet "bold goals" to contain costs, enhance productivity and improve educational pathways to careers both within and beyond academia, the report says.
America’s research universities are one of the most treasured assets this country has, and are significant drivers of social mobility and economic prosperity. “They are a precious asset but they are also an asset that cannot be taken for granted and, just like everything else, can become fragile,” Cigarroa said. "We need these institutions to recruit and retain world-class faculty and scientists to ensure future generations of students receive an education of the first class,” Cigarroa added.
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, the University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities and six health science centers. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 215,000 in the 2011 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $13.1 billion (FY 2012) including $2.3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With roughly 87,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.