Letter from the Vice President: April 2017

In recent weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about the future of federally funded research. On March 16, President Trump unveiled his proposed FY18 budget. The picture it painted for research and innovation was not a pretty one.

But as I stated in a message to the UO research community, the budget proposal is still just a proposal and the president faces a very long negotiation with Congress over the final terms of the FY2018 budget. There is still broad bipartisan support for federal research funding in Congress, and it’s important that we in the research community do not panic and that we continue to make the case for the tremendous impact that federally funded research makes in the lives of Oregonians and all U.S. citizens.

I did just that in a guest commentary I wrote with Geri Richmond that appeared in the Oregonian. We argued that if President Trump is serious about running the country like a business, he must invest in research and development — something that successful businesses do to ensure the vitality of their futures.

All across the nation, researchers are speaking out against the proposed cuts to federal research funding. Many scientists are wading into the political fray for the first time in their careers. As budget negotiations between Congress and the White House heat up, we can expect the conversation within the scientific community to grow even louder. We are working closely with our colleagues through the AAU and APLU to amplify our voices, and I anticipate that some of you will encounter opportunities to stand up to remind our elected officials that federal investment in research is crucial to the economic growth and prosperity of the U.S.

As many of you know, there is a March for Science scheduled for April 22. This nationwide grassroots movement has a local component that includes a noon march from the UO campus to the Eugene Federal Courthouse. While the UO is not an official sponsor of the march, we support public discourse on the value of science to society. Many of you may choose to participate in this event, which organizers are promising to be a constructive and peaceful rally.

UO leadership remains steadfast in our conviction that research excellence is a core mission of this university, and that robust investment in research and development must be a top priority for our government. I am aware that many members of the UO community want themselves to become more engaged in such public policy debates. We are planning a university forum in the very near future to provide guidance and advice about how to do so in an effective and appropriate manner as a public employee. We will circulate more information about time and place soon.