Innovation Imperative



Action follows American Academy of Arts & Sciences report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream


June 23, 2015 – Scores of leaders of American business, industry, higher education, science, and engineering today issued an urgent call to action for stronger federal policies and investment to drive domestic research and development. Ten CEOs from U.S. corporations with international reach and 252 organizations from across the country signed “Innovation: An American Imperative,” a document aimed at federal decision makers and legislators.  It underscores the findings—and warnings—contained in The American Academy of Arts & Sciences report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream.

The CEOs signing on to the effort are:

  • Samuel R. Allen, Chairman & CEO, John Deere
  • Norman R. Augustine, Co-Chair, Restoring the Foundation
  • Wes Bush, Chairman, President & CEO, Northrop Grumman
  • Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman & CEO, Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Marillyn A. Hewson, Chairman, President, & CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Charles O. Holliday, Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell plc
  • Joseph Jimenez, CEO, Novartis
  • W. James McNerney, Jr., Chairman of the Board & CEO, The Boeing Company
  • Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
  • Jay Timmons, President and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers

According to Restoring the Foundation, “There is a deficit between what America is investing and what it should be investing to remain competitive, not only in research but in innovation and job creation.” The United States is failing to keep pace with competitor nations with regard to investments in basic research and development. America’s ascendency in the 20th century was due in large part—if not primarily—to its investments in science and engineering research.  Basic research is behind every new product brought to market, every new medical device or drug, every new defense and space technology and many innovative business practices.

Over the last two decades, a steady decline in investment in research & development (R&D) in the United States has allowed our nation to fall to 10th place in R&D investment among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD) nations as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).

At this pace, China will surpass the United States in R&D intensity in about eight years.

These developments led a diverse coalition of those concerned with the future of research in America to join together in presenting the Innovation Imperative to federal policy makers and urging them to take action to:

  • End sequestration’s deep cuts to federal investments in R&D
  • Make permanent a strengthened federal R&D tax credit
  • Improve student achievement in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM)
  • Reform U.S. visa policy
  • Streamline or eliminate costly and inefficient regulations
  • Reaffirm merit-based peer review
  • Stimulate further improvements in advanced manufacturing

Details on these action items, as well as a full list of signatories, are included in the full document, which is linked above and posted on the websites of each of the following organizations:

  • American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Association of American Universities
  • Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
  • Battelle
  • Coalition for National Science Funding
  • Coalition for National Security Research
  • Council on Competitiveness
  • Energy Sciences Coalition
  • Task Force on American Innovation
  • The Science Coalition

American Academy of Arts & Sciences “The Lincoln Project” Looks at Challenges and Opportunities at American Public Research Universities

American Academy of Arts & Sciences

First of five publications examines

“Public Research Universities: Why They Matter” 

CAMBRIDGE, MA | JUNE 2, 2015 – America’s public research universities are facing myriad challenges that threaten their role as essential sources of innovation, economic vitality, and educational opportunity.

Steadily declining financial support from state governments, eroding public confidence, and changing student demographics, among other challenges, led The American Academy of Arts and Sciences to undertake The Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education.

In the first of five publications addressing these and other issues, The Lincoln Project looks at Public Research Universities: Why They Matter.

“Public research universities educate the very best students state by state across the entire country,” said co-chair Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of California, Berkeley. “They represent our most effective mechanism for addressing the challenges of income inequality, equity, and inclusion.  We must preserve their excellence.”

“Across the country, public research universities have responded to the financial crises of the past decade with enormous resilience and creativity,” added co-chair of The Lincoln Project, Mary Sue Coleman, President Emeritus of the University of Michigan. “But limits have been reached, and we now risk losing a valuable resource for every single state in this nation.”

In addition to Coleman and Birgeneau, the Lincoln Project advisory committee comprises scholars, business and industry and political leaders.

Public Research Universities: Why They Matter begins the discussion by highlighting five specific ways in which these institutions are vital to the public good.

Public Research Universities:

  • Serve the national interest.
    • With the demise of many private research laboratories, our nation’s universities are the primary sources of U.S. research, discovery, and innovation.
  • Contribute to the innovation economy.
    • Between 2012 and 2013, research at public research universities resulted in more than 13,340 patent applications, 3,281 patents awarded, and 693 start-ups.
  • Provide quality educational opportunities and programs at a highly efficient cost.
    • An education from a public research university typically pays for itself within five to seven years of post-graduate employment.
  • Work to maintain and improve access and affordability.
    • Of first-year students entering public research universities in 2012- 2013, 83% of students received financial aid and 31% received Pell Grants.
  • Value responsible spending.
    • Tuition increases are driven mostly by cuts in state appropriations. In response, universities are cutting administrative costs and developing new funding models to reduce the burden on students.

Subsequent publications will examine the challenges facing higher education funding at the state level; current and changing financial models of public research universities; and the myriad impacts of the research conducted at these institutions.

Named for President Abraham Lincoln, who in 1862 signed The Morrill Act, establishing a network of public universities, The Lincoln Project focuses on strengthening the functions that these institutions play in the areas of access, research, regional and national economic vitality, and individual economic liberty and social mobility.

The Lincoln Project will offer substantive policy recommendations for sustaining these institutions and advancing their growth for the benefit of the states they serve and the nation as a whole

“Public research universities are an essential component of American higher education,” said Academy president, Jonathan F. Fanton.  “They educate students of all backgrounds and they support a substantial portion of the scientific, social scientific, and humanistic research that creates knowledge and drives innovation.”

Funding for The Lincoln Project is provided by generous support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Spencer Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Thomas and Stacey Seibel Foundation, and Robert and Colleen Haas.

American Academy of Arts & Sciences Brings Focus of Restoring the Foundation to Duke University

American Academy of Arts & Sciences

CAMBRIDGE, MA | FEBRUARY 17, 2015 – The American Academy of Arts & Sciences continues its dialogue with the key constituencies most deeply affected by its recent report,

Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream. 

The report, which seeks to restore and fortify American leadership in science, technology, and engineering, offers three imperatives for academia, government, and the private sector:

  • Secure America’s leadership in science and engineering research—especially basic research—by providing sustainable federal investment
  • Ensure that the American people receive the maximum benefit from federal investments in research
  • Regain America’s standing as an innovation leader by establishing a more robust national government-university-industry research partnership.

Duke University, recognized as one of the nation’s leaders in biomedical research and engineering, is hosting an important discussion on issues raised in Restoring the Foundation, as well as a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Bruce Alberts and his colleagues, specifically addressing “The Unstable Biomedical Research Ecosystem: How Can It Be Made More Robust?”

According to these and other publications, NIH-supported biomedical research at American universities is unsustainable, an unintended consequence of the rapid, albeit much needed, expansion of the NIH budget. Many expected such investment to continue, when instead the biomedical research budget stalled and then contracted. The resulting imbalance – an increasing supply of trained biomedical researchers pursuing a limited number of positions, as well as expanding academic laboratories seeking support from a finite funding pool – has imposed crippling strains on the biomedical research enterprise.

Restoring the Foundation was produced by the American Academy’s Committee on New Models for U.S. Science & Technology Policy. Two of its members, Nancy C. Andrews and Mark Fishman, will help lead the discussion to further develop ideas from the report and promote implementation of the recommendations.



Nancy C. Andrews

Dean, Duke University School of Medicine and

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Tania Baker

E.C. Whitehead Professor of Biology,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Mark Fishman

President, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research

Sally Kornbluth

Provost, Duke University

Harold Varmus

Director, National Cancer Institute

Susan Wente

Provost, Vanderbilt University


Additional Remarks from:

Jonathan F. Fanton

President, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Richard H. Brodhead

President, Duke University

Abraham Lincoln, PR Maven?

#AbrahamLincoln, #PublicRelations maven.

No disrespect intended, but if our 16th president can be cast as a vampire hunter, then why not as a PR maven? He never really hunted vampires, but Lincoln, arguably the greatest president in the history of the United States, did display a fierce understanding of how to communicate and how to put public opinion to work for him in a way that future politicians would both envy and emulate.

I’m certainly not the first person to explore this theme, write about it, or admire Lincoln for it, but this being his birthday week, it’s a subject worth revisiting. If for no other reason than to remind people that public relations can be used for good, not evil.

Lincoln’s humble beginnings, lack of formal education, and unpolished social skills made him an unlikely national hero, let alone one of the world’s most admired figures 150 years after his death. But those are the very traits and experiences that gave him insight into the people he governed. Insight that his political contemporaries not only lacked but derided. (Although nearly all who knew him well would come to admire and respect his intellect and his humanity.)

Lincoln could empathize with average Americans. He could make a point easier and better by telling a story—often involving self-deprecating or off-color humor—than by dictating dogma.

Lincoln understood timing, themes, and opportunity. A cynic might call him a manipulative opportunist. I prefer to think of him as a genius who understood human nature.

Lincoln was, indeed, anti-slavery, but never an ardent abolitionist. Indeed, in his first inaugural address, he made a point of calming the Confederacy by saying, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so…”

He didn’t pursue the Civil War to abolish slavery. He pursued the war to maintain the Union. While doing so, he understood that the institution of slavery was the foundation of the Confederate economy and the Confederate war effort. And he reasoned that as “Commander-in-Chief,” he did have the power of emancipation. In 1862, the war was not going well for the Union and Lincoln knew that issuing the Emancipation Proclamation while the Union Army struggled would not stir the masses. Instead, he waited for the momentum of the Union victory at Antietam, then announced that if the Confederacy did not rejoin the Union by January 1, 1863—an unlikely capitulation—the slaves in the Confederate states would be “then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

Not binding in and of itself, the Emancipation Proclamation still re-cast the purpose of the war and strengthened the resolve of much of the nation, which was growing weary of battle. The timing was right. The message was right. And Lincoln was “on message.”

Anyone who is cynical about Abraham Lincoln’s genius or motives, however, has never read his second inaugural address.

After winning a second term, knowing the war was near its end and that the Confederacy was finished, Lincoln might have gloated. He might have stuck his finger in the eye of the South. Instead, he chose to lead as President of the United States. He urged, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Abraham Lincoln understood public relations on the most human level: treat people with dignity, respect their history, and resolve to do what’s right.


Former U.S. Ambassador To Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry Discusses Value of Humanities in U.S. Foreign Policy at Chicago Humanities Fesitval

Commission on the Humanities & Social Sciences


Eikenberry, member of American Academy of Arts & Sciences Commission on the Humanities & Social Sciences, talks about “The Heart of the Matter” 

The Report that got America talking about how the humanities and social sciences contribute to a vibrant, competitive, and secure nation 

Saturday, November 8, 2014; 2:30 p.m. ;Main Hall C; 725 W. Roosevelt Rd.

The 25th Chicago Humanities Festival welcomes former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general Karl Eikenberry to the city this weekend for a discussion of The Heart of the Matter, and its application to “soft power” in the international arena.

Ambassador Eikenberry is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Commission on the Humanities & Social Sciences, which produced the landmark 2013 report, “The Heart of the Matter.” The report, requested by a bipartisan Congressional coalition, looks at the vital role of the humanities and social sciences in preparing and sustaining Americans for the responsibility of productive citizenship in the United States and the world.

Eikenberry, who has served as both a diplomat and a soldier, believes that the humanities belong at the center of American foreign policy. The former ambassador, who is now the William J. Perry Fellow for International Security at Stanford University, will appear in conversation with Jerome McDonnell, host of the WBEZ program Worldview.