June 28, 2010 — Teresa A. Sullivan, who will become president of the University of Virginia on Aug. 1, will serve on a national committee that will study and make recommendations on the state and future of the American research university.
Four members of congress – Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Representatives Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and Ralph Hall (R-Texas) – said they are concerned that research universities "are at risk." They asked the heads of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and the president of the Institute of Medicine to appoint "a distinguished group of individuals to assess the competitive position of American research universities, both public and private."
"Research universities have been critical assets that have laid the groundwork – through research and doctoral education – for the development of many of the competitive advantages that make possible the high American standard of living," they added. They said American universities are under stress "even as other countries are measurably improving the quality of their research institutions."
In addition to Sullivan, the 21-member group includes presidents and former presidents of universities, distinguished scientists, management professors and representatives of businesses and private foundations. Chad Holliday, chairman of the board of Bank of America and retired chairman and CEO of DuPont, will chair the committee.
Sullivan, who is now provost at the University of Michigan, said she was honored to have been asked to join such a distinguished committee. "This panel is a recognition that the research universities are a national resource beyond the services they provide to the state in which they are located," Sullivan said. "The new products, medical cures and the industries that will produce the jobs for the 21st century are very likely to be incubated in these universities.
"America's research universities have become a part of the infrastructure of the country, and their well-being is of national significance."
The group is charged with recommending 10 actions that "Congress, the federal government, state governments, research universities and others could take to assure the ability of the American research community to maintain the excellence in research and doctoral education needed to help the United States compete, prosper and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment and security in the global community of the 21st century."
John O. Wynne, rector of the University, said, "For Terry Sullivan to have been selected as a member of this committee speaks to her depth of understanding of the mission and goals of research universities. She knows all too well the critical role they play in the future of our nation.
"Terry will be an extraordinary representative of the University of Virginia, and she will represent higher education with the thoughtfulness and candor needed to state the case for all of America's research institutions."
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is sponsoring the project. The panel will begin meeting this fall, with a report due in May 2011.