Charles M. Vest
THE DIVERSITY AMONG American universities is one of the great strengths of our system of higher education. But although their styles and missions may vary, our research‐ intensive universities have all been the beneficiaries of a common legacy: a national policy framework that has supported them since the end of World War II. Indeed, our national science policy gave birth to the most successful system of higher education in the world. In this sense, they share a common history, and together they have conferred upon our country its position as the world leader in science and education.
Today, the framework of that national policy is metastable at best—weakened by a lack of a common vision and trust and by a loss in our national will to excel. Our research universities are overstressed and underfunded, and much of this strain is the direct result of our changing world and changing federal policy.
Fifty years ago, the policy basis for federal support of research and education in America was outlined in a report by Vannevar