West Virginia University President Jim Clements joined seven other research university presidents at a gathering of senators in Washington, D.C., Thursday to champion the message that innovations resulting from work at America’s research universities are critical to economic development.

Clements joined presidents from Northeastern University, University of Vermont, Wayne State University, Emory University, University of Maryland, Stony Brook University in Long Island, N.Y., and North Carolina State University at a roundtable sponsored by the Science Coalition, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization of the nation’s leading public and private research universities.

Clements told the gathering about WVU’s successful partnerships with the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory on energy research and the University’s ongoing work with the FBI, federal agencies, industry and other universities through the Center for Identification Technology Research, a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center founded at WVU.

“Research universities are essential engines of economic development and innovation,” Clements said after event. “By sharing WVU’s success stories such as CITeR and our partnership with NETL, we strengthen the case for the importance of federal funding for research at institutional, state and national levels. Working with The Science Coalition, I appreciate the opportunity to join with my fellow presidents to discuss this urgent issue with members of the U.S. Senate.”

The discussion occurred as the Congress and the White House worked to negotiate an agreement to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year. Federal funding for scientific research is among the government programs targeted for significant reduction under certain budget-cutting scenarios. The university leaders discussed the many ways in which federally funded university-based research helps fuel the economy – from being local economic engines to helping drive industrial innovation to enabling America to compete in the global economy.

“Our system of higher education and research has been the envy of the world,” said Maryland President Wallace Loh. “Federally funded university research has been a driving force in our economy since World War II and has helped the U.S. lead the world in science, technology and innovation that make a difference in our lives. However, other nations are watching and emulating us.

“They realize that research universities are a fundamental component of an innovation economy. We risk losing our competitive edge because we are pulling back at precisely the time that other nations are investing heavily in scientific research.”

The roundtable was organized by the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, chaired by Sen. Mark Begich (AK), and included participation by Sens. Daniel Akaka (HI), Benjamin Cardin (MD), Kay Hagan (NC), Bernard Sanders (VT), and Debbie Stabenow (MI).

The Science Coalition is dedicated to maintaining strong federal funding of basic scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, drive innovation and secure America’s global competitiveness. The Science Coalition has created a report on how federally funded university research, including WVU’s, creates innovations, new companies and jobs.



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