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Association of American Universities
Council of Graduate Schools in the United States
American Council on Education
National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities
March 25, 1980
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
I am Michael Pelczar. For approximately 37 years I was a microbiologist
at the University of Maryland, then Vice President for Graduate
Studies and Research and now am President for the Council of Graduate Schools. It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to present to the Subcommittee our views concerning the FY 1981 authorization of the National Science Foundation. The member institutions of these associations train and educate almost all of the nation's highly skilled scientific and technical personnel. They confer virtually all of the advanced degrees and perform most of the federally supported basic research conducted in the country.
Together these schools grant
CGS represents approximately 360 institutions. 99% of the doctoral research degrees and 85% of the master's level degrees of the nation. Almost all of academic basic research funded by the National Science Foundation and by other federal agencies is carried out in the laboratories of The Council also has 300 other affiliate
the New England, Southern, Mid-western and Western regional associations of graduate deans.
The Subcommittee meets to consider the FY 1981 authorization for the National Science Foundation at a troublesome time in our history. The challenges that now face us of run-away inflation, of budget deficit, declining productivity
and technological innovation, and dependence on foreign oil are felt by all of As a people we seem caught in the situation Toynbee so accurately described: "When life seems satisfactory and secure, most people apparently are not moved to peer into the future further ahead than is required for present and practical purposes. As a rule, people feel acute concern about the future beyond the horizon of the present only when the times are out of joint and when the prospects look menacing. In our generation we are living in one of these times of unusually intense stress and anxiety. What awaits us? What are we going to do when it comes upon us? In our present situation, such questions force themselves on our attention."
The nation's research universities and colleges have first-hand experience in addressing these "menacing" and "out of joint" times. Indeed, it is their responsibility to train the best minds of our nation in undergraduate as well as graduate education and research programs. If we are to address the problems of our time, we must take the steps necessary to insure that these individuals are fully trained and prepared to address the problems before us. We must insure a flow of the people and resources necessary to sustain a stable and productive research environment in the nation's research institutions.
As non-profit institutions, universities and colleges are thoroughly familiar with the devastating impact of sustained high inflation on institutional budgets. For many years they have responded to chronic fiscal pressures. These institutions already have accomplished sustained budgetary retrenchment,
continued improved management and energy conservation. They are continuing to pursue thess goals and welcome reasures cesigned to reduce the high cost of inflation.
As you consider the FY 1981 Authorization for the Foundation, we reaffirm our support for the basic research and science education programs of NSF and urge that continue to recognize the uniquely important role NSF must play if we are to sustain our search for solutions to the problems that beset us. While we are prepared to do our part to address the difficult problems before us, we urge the Congress to take a balanced and responsible approach and to ensure that the programs designed to find long-term solutions to our problems will be maintained.
Over three years ago, following a prolonged period of decline in support for basic research, the Administration initiated a strategy designed to restore federal investments in basic research to levels comparable to those of almost a decade ago. Recognizing that such investments have brought numerous social,
technological, and economic benefits, the Administration has consistently proposed sustained, modest growth in the basic research programs of NSF and several mission agencies. Last year, in a Joint Statement to the Congress (attached),
forty higher education associations and leading science societies commended this basic research investment policy and urged the Congress to sustain support of the principles of stable, balanced and controlled investment for the future.
In the face of declining national productivity and steadily rising inflation, a controlled, coherent investment policy for basic research is absolutely essential if we are to find new ideas and develop solutions to the pressing economic, technological, and social problems which confront our society. The principles set forth in the Joint Statement remain valid. They assume even added importance
in the circumstances now before us.
The FY 1981 budget submitted to the Congress in January recognizes the central importance of NSF among federal research programs, and it proposes a balanced, targeted strategy to address the most pressing needs of basic science. Among them are targeted increases for the physical and mathematical sciences, which, between 1967-1980, respectively suffered 13.5% and 16.7% decreases in constant 1972 dollars. Engineering and basic computer sciences also are targeted for a special effort this year. Together these fields are a vital part of the knowledge foundation upon which our economy rests.
As pressures build this year on the research budgets of other agencies, it will be even more important for the Congress to sustain a renewed commitment to the basic research programs of NSF. Only the Foundation has as its primary mission the support of basic research. Deep cuts in NSF could completely undo the limited efforts of the last three years and set in motion wide-scale program reductions and terminations that will serve only to further retard, rather
than encourage, the efforts of our most able investigators as they press the search for answers to our problems.
An essential element of a stable, competitive research environment is modern instrumentation and equipment. State-of-the-art basic research in the sciences and engineering increasingly relies on sophisticated, high-cost analytical instrumentation and equipment. During my own career as a researcher/teacher, and most recently Chief Research Officer of the University, I have participated in and observed the rapid development of the sciences and engineering. I have observed
the rapid evolution of the scientist's tools from relatively simple, inexpensive instruments to rapidly developing, highly specialized tools of impressive power
Access to state-of-the-art instrumentation now often defines an investigator's ability to compete at the cutting edge of his or her field. In my own field of micro-biology, the indispensable microscope has evolved to unprecedented levels of research power and productivity. With these advances, however, have come steadily increasing costs. Many universities have fallen behind in their capacity to maintain state-of-the-art, competitive research laboratories, instruments and equipment. Many of the nation's leading departments are coping now with out-moded facilities and tools. Squeezed by budgetary pressures and repeatedly deferred, the renovation and rehabilitation needs of major research institutions are now of substantial proportion. Last year a brief survey of nine of the nation's research universities, which together conduct about 15% of our total basic research effort, showed that these universities are able to meet only about half of their documented needs for facilities rehabilitation. Many now can meet only a fraction of the costs for necessary laboratory renovation and reinstrumentation.
This, of course, has a direct, long-term effect on quality of basic research and on the quality of advanced training which universities provide for our next generation of scientists and engineers. While we are sensitive to the needs for fiscal restraint and to the requirements to reduce new initiatives at this difficult time, we would point out to the Committee that the backlogged needs for facilities