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Frank Huband

Despite Stimulus, Recovery Is Distant

Many of us, in these difficult financial times, may be receiving best wishes for a prosperous New Year. While prosperity may not be around the corner, there does seem to be hope now for a tentative economic recovery. So, what are the recovery hopes for higher education, and how much have the stimulus funds helped? Prism's cover story, "Shoring Up," examines the long-term fiscal outlook for schools and finds that despite the influx of these funds, the picture is worrisome, especially for state-funded institutions. The flurry of stimulus monies that hit campuses across the nation, in many cases, has barely helped schools weather the double hit of the 2008-9 recession and the Bush years of flat funding for research. Concern now is that even if there's another stimulus package, research increases may not be sustained, and projects will be left hanging.

With the emphasis on jobs, jobs, jobs, stimulus funding did come through for research that will lead eventually to improving the workplace. The nation's schools made a successful pitch to include monies for academic research in the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, arguing that research leads to innovation, which in turn leads to jobs and a strengthened economy. The final package included $21.5 billion for research - a huge infusion of funds. We also report on five projects that, without the stimulus bonanza, might have gone unfunded. These projects are part of the stimulus effort to invest in the green economy.

A key player who believes engineers are central to a green-jobs recovery is Sen. Ted Kaufman of Delaware, the chamber's only engineer. Appointed to fill the last two years of Joe Biden's seat, he has just a year left in office. In Prism's profile, "One in a Hundred," we learn, however, that Kaufman does not plan to play the lame duck, but on the contrary, is determined to make a difference. An advocate of K-12 STEM education, he inserted funding into a 2010 spending bill for research specifically aimed at increasing participation by women and under-represented minorities in STEM fields. He is working to get Congress to approve energy and climate legislation and also wants to tighten up on Wild West trading on Wall Street.

As always, I would welcome your comments and suggestions.


Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher




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