Tilghman feels as though financing research in science, which used to be a social contract, is declining among universities. She links economic vitality with research and development, and sees the lack of financial assistance as detrimental.
The other major issue in higher education that I am concerned about is the financing research in science and engineering. If you go back 50 years, you will see that there was established after the Second World War kind of a social contract between the federal government and research universities where the government provided the resources to conduct the research, and the university provided the infrastructure and the labor force. What has been happening over the last 25 years is that social contract is beginning to erode. The percentage of total research dollars that the federal government now provides to the universities is declining as a percentage. And at some point the universities are gonna have to cry uncle and simply say that we cannot afford to fill in the gap that is left by the decline in federal dollars. And if you believe as I do that the economic vitality of the United States over the last half-century is directly related to the degree in which this country invested in research and development, then a decline in research is really not a good prognosis of the future health of the United States.