Amid proposed cuts, VP urges faculty to promote value of research

David Conover

In a message to the UO research community, David Conover, vice president for research and innovation, offered some insights into the Trump Administration’s newly released budget recommendation for fiscal year 2018.

The president's proposal, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” slashes spending for scientific and medical research, disease-prevention programs and other initiatives. It also includes cuts in student aid.

“I take seriously any effort to undercut the research cornerstones of the university-federal partnership,” Conover wrote.

Conover reiterated that the recommendation is still subject to debate and that, ultimately, Congress holds the purse strings.

He noted strong bipartisan support in Congress for research and development, as evidenced by the fiscal 2017 budget act, which allocated increases in funding for several agencies, including the National Institutes of Health.

The act provided for the protection or enhancement of other research priorities such as the National Center for Special Education Research and ShakeAlert, the earthquake early warning system that relies on the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network operated by the UO and University of Washington.

Nevertheless, Conover said, there is good reason to follow what happens with the administration’s budget proposal for a number of key reasons, including its assumption that the embedded costs of research for facilities and administration, often referred to as indirect costs, are unnecessary, and that savings would be realized by eliminating reimbursements to universities for research costs.

Conover urged UO researchers to continue writing proposals and to become engaged in communicating the value of university research, scholarship and creative expression to policymakers and the public.

“Now more than ever we need scientists and scholars from all disciplines who are willing to connect with elected officials and taxpayers, who are the true funders of our research,” Conover said.