achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the 21st century?”

In response, the National Research Council (NRC) convened a committee of individuals who are leaders in academia, industry, government, and national laboratories. In selecting the committee, the NRC sought not only balance across sectors, but also diversity among academic institutions, balance across fields, and wide geographic distribution, including individuals with significant international experience. This report is the committee’s response to its charge.

We believe that America’s research universities are, today, a key asset for our nation’s future. They are so because of the considered and deliberate decisions made in the past by policy makers, even in difficult times. Our future now depends on the willingness of our current policy makers to follow their example and make the decisions that will allow us to continue to compete, prosper, and shape our destiny. It is essential that we as a nation reaffirm, revitalize, and strengthen substantially the unique partnership that has long existed among the nation’s research universities, the federal government, the states, and philanthropy by enhancing their roles and linkages and also providing incentives for stronger partnership with business and industry. In doing so, we will encourage the ideas and innovations that will lead to more high-end jobs, increasing middle-class incomes, and the security, health, and prosperity we expect.


In the course of our history, America has set and accomplished grand goals that have defined us as a nation. Our national assets strongly position the United States to accomplish our current goals and lead the world in the 21st century. However, the relative rankings of the United States in the global knowledge economy at a time when new knowledge and technological innovation are critical to economic growth and other national goals have shown that other countries increasingly are investing in their own competitiveness.

As America pursues economic growth and other national goals, its research universities have emerged as a major national asset perhaps even its most potent one. This did not happen by accident; it is the result of prescient and deliberate federal and state policies. These began with the Morrill Act of 1862 and subsequent land-grant acts that established a partnership between the federal government and the states in building universities that would address the challenges of creating a modern agricultural and industrial economy for the twentieth century. They were amplified as the partnership was powerfully rebuilt in the decades following World War II. The importance of government-sponsored univer-

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