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Columbia Missourian

GUEST COMMENTARY: Deaton responds to National Research Council Report

By Brady J. Deaton, MU chancellor, Columbia
June 15, 2012 | 2:36 p.m. CDT

This is a landmark day for our nation's public research universities. As chancellor of one of the premier land-grant research institutions in the United States, I want to explain why this is so.

Today, the National Academies' National Research Council delivers its report: "Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation's Prosperity and Security." This report issues both a wake-up call about the alarming direction of higher education due to financial exigencies and a sound remedy to change course. Indeed, the council's report offers real hope for revitalizing public higher education's dynamic role in our society by offering a financial model of shared responsibility among citizens, business, government and philanthropic organizations. 


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In essence, the council's report calls for a new social contract that includes federal responsibility earmarked specifically for research and graduate education support; each state's commitment to increase support for undergraduate education; and greater investment from the private sector to promote innovation, technology, human capital and its support facilities. This is necessary to ensure America's economic strength, national security and quality of life and to avoid the nation's further decline in these same areas. We are fortunate in Missouri that our state's leaders have responded to our efforts to contain costs and do more with less by keeping our operating budget stable for the coming year. 

The preamble to the Constitution of the United States declares that the role of government includes efforts to promote the general welfare of the citizenry. From the outset of this nation, we, as a people, have known with certainty and espoused with conviction that "education is America's ticket to the future" in its role of providing an educated citizenry and workforce. Equally vital to the nation's prosperity is the impact of breakthrough research at institutions of higher education. This fuels the innovation and creativity that, in turn, expand our economy and improve all aspects of our lives. Moreover, in the late 1800s, this country's creation of the land-grant system of public higher education became a unique world model for increasing access to higher education and for using research findings to inform the decision making of citizens and leaders at the community and state levels.

Today, MU heralds the National Research Council's report. We state our full support for its broad concept, and we look forward to exploring the specific strategies laid out in this document. We remain committed to efficiency and effectiveness in all our operations and to a partnership with our state government and our colleagues in the University of Missouri System and other institutions across the state. MU accepts this call to arms from some of America’s most prominent thinkers and leaders and invites support from all those who share our vision for a greater university, state and nation.     

Brady J. Deaton is the chancellor at MU.