the most mobile of commodities. Accordingly, few states make funding of doctoral programs a priority. But what is true for any one state is not true for the states collectively. If all states economize on research university expenditures, there will not be enough high level professionals produced, graduate educators will become scarce, and innovation will suffer. Having the locus of responsibility for funding research universities at the state level worked well in 1862 when the Morrill Act was signed into law by President Lincoln. Transportation was poor and communication was slow and expensive. At that time, if a state wanted the benefits brought by a research university, it had to invest in building and maintaining one within its own borders. Federalism devolved the responsibility for higher education to the states at this time, an appropriate decision. But today’s high speed transmission of information and high mobility of people and capital make the state locus of responsibility for funding research universities quite problematic. How does one convince states to behave in a manner that is responsive to the good of the whole nation? How do you convince them not to be free-riders? This question is critical because the states still supply 50 percent of the funding for educational programs at research universities. That the federal government understands this problem is evident in the requirement that Congress embedded in the stimulus funding package that states maintain their higher education funding effort at least at the 2006 level in order to qualify for the education portion of these funds. Similar maintenance- of-effort provisions are embedded in other legislation. But the downward course taken by state higher education appropriations over time demonstrates that such requirements have not stemmed state disinvestment. Perhaps some state will find that funding research universities better will pay dividends for its citizens. Universities ought to be building this case and supplying data to demonstrate how past investments have paid off. While we must not give up on the efforts to restore state funding, I am not optimistic that such efforts will succeed in time to avert further serious damage. It is time for the larger collective, the United States, to step forward and assume more of the responsibility for research university funding. I note that other countries have come to the understanding that research RLI 274 7 The Future of the US Research University ( C O N T I N U E D ) FEBRUARY 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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