We are not the first authors to be halfway through writing a book when the world changed. True, in the fall of 2008, Newtonian laws were not repealed (that took place during the Internet bubble), nor was a conclusive proof of Einstein’s general theory of relativity advanced. Still, the world experienced the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression with trillions of dollars of wealth wiped out in a matter of weeks and the viability of a highly complex and interdependent global financial system severely tested. Of course, the airwaves and cyberspace were filled with commentary on the causes of the crisis. The two of us were highly interested observers in all of this, especially because one of us was leading a major research university and the other was teaching a group of 100 entrepreneurs and advising three high-tech companies. Yet aside from comments on the reduced size of university endowments we did not believe the economic crisis would have a major impact on this book.
Two individuals we admire caused us to reconsider. First, as part of a panel on the world economic crisis, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, said, “We are going to have to innovate our way out of this thing and our great research universities will have to lead the way.”1 A week later, Harvard’s world-renowned strategist, Michael Porter, declared that America urgently needs a coherent economic strategy based in large part upon our strengths in innovation, entrepreneurship, and higher education.2 Their comments helped us crystallize a conviction we intuitively understood but had yet to articulate. No longer were we writing a book aimed primarily at university presidents, boards of trustees, and philanthropists interested in increasing the impact of the work that goes on at the nation’s leading research universities. Instead, we were writing about the critical role of research universities in helping reshape America and the world—not solely in terms of the