benefits. Without these, states and regions that are currently sustained by their research universities may lose their competitive edge, and our nation may fall short in both meeting its national goals and continuing its strong global leadership.
For the past half-century, the research and graduate programs of America’s research universities have been essential contributors to the nation’s prosperity, health, and security. Today, our nation faces new challenges, a time of rapid and profound economic, social, and political transformation driven by the growth in knowledge and innovation. Educated people, the knowledge they produce, and the innovation and entrepreneurial skills they possess, particularly in the fields of science and engineering, have become the keys to America’s future. We have taken stock of the organizational, financial, and intellectual health of our nation’s research universities today and have envisioned the role we would like them to play in our nation’s life 10 to 20 years from now. We can say without reservation that our research universities are, today, the best in the world and an important resource for our nation, yet, at the same time, in grave danger of not only losing their place of global leadership but of serious erosion in quality due to critical trends in public support.
Our vision for strengthening these institutions so that they may remain dynamic assets over the coming decades involves both increasing their productivity and ensuring their strong support for education and research. Therefore, it is essential that the unique partnership that has long existed among the nation’s research universities, the federal government, the states, and business and industry be reaffirmed and strengthened. This will require
• A balanced set of commitments by each of the partners—federal government, state governments, research universities, and business and industry—to provide leadership for the nation in a knowledge-intensive world and to develop and implement enlightened policies, efficient operating practices, and necessary investments.
• Use of matching requirements among these commitments that provide strong incentives for participation at comparable levels by each partner.
• Sufficient flexibility to accommodate differences among research universities and the diversity of their various stakeholders. While merit, impact, and need should continue to be the primary criteria for awarding research grants and contracts by federal agencies, investment in infrastructure should consider additional criteria such as regional and cross-