UT Austin President Powers Meets with Congressional Leaders on Sequestration

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers and other higher education officials will meet today with congressional leaders to discuss federal sequestration's damaging effect on university research and possible solutions as Congress negotiates spending levels for 2014. 

Powers currently serves as chair of the Association of American Universities, a role through which he is addressing some of the biggest challenges facing higher education, including student access, affordability and promoting top-tier research in an era of shrinking funding.

"Much of our nation's scientific and economic leadership was built on innovation and research on college campuses and relied on public support," said Powers.  "Sequestration is already hurting that research and limiting students' involvement in the types of innovation that can change the world. I'm looking forward to speaking with leaders of Congress about how we, as a nation, can move forward and support research universities as tools of scientific and economic growth."

Last week, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and The Science Coalition, which collectively represent more than 300 higher education institutions, released a survey of U.S. universities about the impact of sequestration, which took effect in March.

They found that the mandatory cuts to federal discretionary spending, from which research budgets are funded, have led to a reduced number of new federal research grants; the delay of some research projects; and fewer admission, stipend and research opportunities for students.

Responding to the effects of these cuts and the additional cuts that will take place if another round of sequestration takes place as scheduled in January 2014, the Association of American Universities has increased its advocacy work in Congress and its efforts to end or reduce sequestration and secure necessary federal funding for research.

"For seven decades, federally funded university research has produced innovations that have driven the economy, dramatically improved health and enhanced national security," AAU President Hunter Rawlings said last week. "This research has also made possible the training of generations of American scientists and engineers. But as we cut, and then cut some more, and as our competitors overseas increase their investments in research and education, we create an innovation deficit that threatens America's global leadership. This foolish policy must end."

Powers and Rawlings will be joined on Capitol Hill by officials from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and presidents and chancellors from Ohio State University, UCLA, the University System of Maryland, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Tulane University and Washington State University.