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In higher ed, plenty of requests for stimulus

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Spaces at the government trough are filling up fast and the leaders of national higher education associations are moving quickly in hopes of getting a piece of any sort of economic stimulus package that may become available.

Locally, universities are approaching this feeding frenzy with some caution.

Inside Higher Ed has a good breakdown of what many higher ed associations are requesting in bailout money.

Here are some highlights:

 • The Association of American Universities, of which Duke and UNC Chapel Hill are members, is asking President-Elect Barack Obama's administration for $1.8 billion for science research and personnel, and $750 million for new science facilities.

Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's vice president for public affairs and government relations, told me that Duke believes in the value of science  and would welcome stimulus money that funds the research itself and the people who do it.

"For Duke and research universities, it's more than medical research," he said. "It's energy research, it's defense research. [Research] is a proven source of innovation and economic activity for the country."

For Duke, a private institution, money for facilities isn't as critical an issue, Schoenfeld said, pointing out that public universities would likely benefit more from facilities funding. 

• Thirteen national groups that advocate for the rights of students have penned a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting, among other things, an increase in the value of the Pell Grant to $7,000 (the current max is $4,731), more money for federal work-study, and other funding for loan programs. (Note: That letter is the first attachment below)

• About two dozen major public universities have signed a letter put together by the Carnegie Corporation proposing the Higher Education Investment Act. It demands that any stimulus legislation include a signficant investment in the nation's public colleges and universities. 

The signatories include many of public higher education's elites — like Texas, Virginia, California, Maryland and the University of Wisconsin system, as well as the American Council on Education, whose president, Molly Corbett Broad, is the UNC system's former chief.

But there are no UNC system campuses on the list. A UNC system spokeswoman told me there are no plans for the UNC system or any of its campuses to join the initiative.

(The second attachment below is the four-page letter detailing the public universities' proposal. The third attachment below is a list of which institutions signed the letter.)


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About the blogger

Eric Ferreri covers higher education and general news.