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University presidents meet at White House

Roundtable Attendees
President of the University of California Mark Yudof was not the only university president in attendance at the Sept. 21 White House meeting. Among the other participants were:
France Córdova
President of Purdue University
Ron Daniels
President of Johns Hopkins University
Elson Floyd
President of Washington State University
Amy Gutmann
President of University of Pennsylvania
J. Bernard Machen
President of University of Florida
Robert Berdahl President of Association of American Universities
Peter McPherson President of Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

Compiled by: Iris Chen, Nick Greitzer and Sonali Kohli, Bruin senior staff.

By Iris Chen

Sept. 29, 2010 1:54 a.m.

Presidents of a number of research universities came together at the White House on Sept. 21 for Vice President Joseph Biden’s roundtable discussion of Recovery Act investments in academic research. Among the six representatives of universities was University of California President Mark Yudof.

The stimulus legislation, formally named the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, has allotted $18 billion for university research, nearly $2 billion of which goes to the University of California.

And while Biden said university research is among the most critical parts of the nation’s recovery spending because it is an investment in the development of sound economic principles, research funding makes up only 2 percent of overall stimulus funding.

“Our economic future will grow from ideas that are incubating at universities,” Biden said at the roundtable meeting.

Following Biden’s remarks, the university presidents discussed short-term benefits, such as job creations and sponsorships in research breakthroughs, which resulted from the stimulus money.

“The problem actually stems from the terrible economy,” said Val Rust, professor emeritus in social sciences and comparative education.

“UCLA is not suffering because it does not have any money, but because the money allocated for research is restricted to a specific fund in Sacramento.”

Rust added that UCLA’s financial difficulties in research extend beyond just that which the Recovery Act can help to fund.

Given the constraints of the national economy, other attendees at the White House summit noted how the stimulus plan had helped their research facilities.

According to Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, funding has generated 1,100 jobs, 700 of which reside in research.

Gilbert Fu, a fourth-year electrical engineering student whose research focuses on cancer detection and protein characterization, expanded on the positive impact of the Recovery Act aside from merely its monetary value for research institutions.

“The Recovery Act is beneficial in that it not only gives students more research opportunities to enhance their education at UCLA, but also encourages students to pursue a further depth of learning by contributing to hands-on work,” Fu said.

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