You'll no doubt be hearing plenty during the coming weeks about the impending "fiscal cliff" over which the country is in danger of hurdling. That's the term being thrown around for the mandatory federal spending cuts and tax increases that will spring into place in January if Congress can't reach a budget deal by then.
That conversation will likely extend to the world of higher education. In fact, it already has, because even though a fall from a "fiscal cliff" sounds like it might be slower and more boring than falls from other types of cliffs, it could be quite harmful for research universities.
Because of this, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little joined about 150 other presidents and chancellors from research universities around the country in signing a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders asking them to make sure to reach a sustainable deal in time to prevent those cuts, known as "sequestration." Also among the signers was Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University.
The letter was re-sent today after it was originally sent in July. The leaders of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, along with those 150 or so university leaders, wrote that the cuts would threaten all the federally funded research that happens at their institutions, as well as student aid that allows people to study at them.
The mandatory cuts would affect the federal agencies that fund so much of the research that takes place at KU and other universities, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. It would also affect many federal financial aid programs, though Pell Grants would be protected.
The AAU and APLU also helped create a website, scienceworksforus.org, that tries to show how the "fiscal cliff" cuts would affect research around the country. The site says that it would reduce federal research funding to KU, K-State and Wichita State University by a combined $19 million annually (it does not divide that effect among the institutions).
Watch next month for a look at how the cuts would threaten research activities at KU. You can download the letter signed onto by Gray-Little right here, if you're interested.