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“no need for panic”

(The WaPo has more detail on Trump’s budget proposal here.)

Dear Members of the UO Research Community,

Today the Trump Administration announced its plans for the FY2018 federal budget. The proposal is thin on details but calls for unprecedented funding reductions for numerous federal agencies, including those that our university depends on to support research. Of particular concern to us is the plan to reduce the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget by $5.8 billion, or 18 percent, and the US Department of Education budget by $9.2 billion, or 14 percent. Although the budget is silent on the future of the Institute of Education Sciences and holds harmless technical assistance programs for IDEA, the target for reduction suggests there will be impacts. Virtually all of the other science agencies except NASA are slated for similar reductions. The president’s budget also proposes to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Economic Development Administration and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Oddly, the announcement makes no mention of the budget allocation for the National Science Foundation (NSF).

While these proposed budget cuts are alarming and their impact should not be minimized, there is no need for panic. I urge to you remember that this is just the first step in what is likely to be a very long negotiation with Congress over the final terms of the FY2018 budget for the nation. In addition, there is very strong bipartisan support in Congress for research and development. For example, during the recent lame duck session, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act that authorizes increases in funding for NIH. Congress also passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA), which authorizes and sets policy for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and various STEM education programs across the federal government. Keep in mind also that Congress must still act on the current FY2017 budget, which expires at the end of April.

Be assured that the UO will be vocal in our support of federal funding for research and scholarship across all disciplines. We will work closely with our colleagues through the AAU and APLU to amplify our voice. You may also find that your disciplinary societies are developing responses to this proposed budget.

The senior leadership of the UO remains steadfast in our conviction that research excellence is a core mission of this university, and we will be relentless in our efforts to remind our elected officials that federal investment in research is crucial to the economic growth and prosperity of the U.S.


David O. Conover

Vice President for Research and Innovation


  1. honest Uncle Bernie 03/16/2017

    A shocking attack on American science, which has probably been in decline for years anyway. An attack on American greatness. No way to M.A.G.A.

    I am less optimistic than Conover. The squeeze on discretionary spending has been on for years. Now it’s tightening. I don’t see science winning out over Social Security, Medicare. It’s not really about military spending, whose proposed boost is not much more than 1% of the entire budget.

    Leadership in science has shifted before. When it shifts back to Europe, or to new powers like China or India, or some combination, don’t be surprised.

    I would not want to be starting out in science in the U.S. It astounds me to be saying this.

    • UO Matters Post author | 03/16/2017

      Fortunately economics is not really a science.

      • honest Uncle Bernie 03/16/2017

        Zingo! But just wait until they announce the social science component of the NSF budget.

        I know you’re not an economist. But do they have any real economists in the Trump administration? I mean, reputable, for what that us worth or not, conservative economists?

        I was already shocked by the apparent caving of so many conservatives and Republicans on free trade. Abandoning the new TPP and attacking NAFTA (which, most people have forgotten or never knew, was one of Reagan’s signature issues when he ran for president).

        All a retreat from American greatness in manifestations supported by presidents like FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan, including everyone through Obama.
        Though with decreasing intensity of focus on the greatness aspect with recent presidents.

      • Focused anger cuts 03/17/2017

        Honesty is the best policy.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 03/16/2017

      Sadly, the nuclear arms reductions started under Reagan have deteriorated. Things could become far more dangerous than during the Cold War.

  2. Andy McGill 03/16/2017

    “Trump Administration” is a partisan and political characterization. An objective way to write it is the “President’s proposed budget”. Just shows how far the politics has creeped into academia at UO.

    • UO Matters Post author | 03/17/2017

      Come on Andy, a nematode could find more interesting signs of politics creeping into academia than someone writing “Trump Administration” in an email.

  3. Plain Interested 03/17/2017

    While I think a draconian cut to science research is a bad thing, I have felt for a long time that universities are taking advantage of the federal government funding research for education and social sciences. Why? Because research is eventually supposed to be applied, and I don’t’ see it. All I see is more minuet study of more arcade topics that are great for researchers but not so great for education or social services. As a matter of conscience, I would rather take away from university researchers and give an equal or larger amount to the actually teachers and social workers. Feel free to give me negative votes! This is just how I would redistribute the funds.

    There is a vacuum in applying social/educational research which is staggering and really needs adjustment. I don’t think the way the current administration is proposing it is correct, but bottom line in this small area, they are on the right track.

    Do I recall a UO scandal that consisted of early educational researchers profiting from a reading program developed with federal dollars by selling it to a for profit companies? Do I recall that the punishment for that was to be required to take ethics courses? I guess I do:

    But to summarize; “The University of Oregon College of Education figures prominently in a blistering federal review that found breaches of ethical standards – and possibly the law…”
    The upshot of what I think is that cuts to federally funded $36M a year in research grants to UO College of Education have a basis. And I really believe the College of Education is “next man up” for layoffs because their research is self-serving and likely and justifiable to be cut. In addition, the College’s org chart of institutes, clinics, centers, departments, and programs shows it to be an empire building mess.

    • uograd 03/17/2017

      Damn right! Let’s begin in the music school by focusing on the form of music called the “minuet” and in the business school analyzing arcades, which, we can all agree, is a really arcane topic. Instead, let’s focus on really important things like learning how to spell correctly.

    • Thomas Hager 03/19/2017

      “research is eventually supposed to be applied”

      Disagree. Basic (or pure) scientific research is done solely to increase our understanding of the natural world. If applications result (and they often do), great. If not, still great.

      • Old Man 03/24/2017

        T. Hager’s characterization of basic science is exactly right for a university that is Liberal Arts oriented. It is the communal seeking of understanding that unites that variety of disciplines comprising the university.

        • dog 03/26/2017

          again this is the statistics illiterate dog, but I seem to recall some scientists in the 1920s saying there is
          not such thing as “exactly right” for science …

          but on another note – the creation, dissemination and critical discussion of knowledge is what the Academy stands for, independent of the value of that knowledge as an applied asset (widget) to society.

  4. Old Man 03/27/2017

    FOR DOG: You are exactly right.

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