The research enterprise of Cornell University has been exceptionally
successful in the past year.
Cornell attracted a record level of funding with increases in sponsored support in all of our colleges. Moreover, the two Cornell research centers with the largest amount of funding—LEPP, the Laboratory for Elementary-Particle Physics (formerly LNS, the Laboratory of Nuclear Studies), and CHESS, the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source—had successful renewals. Both are funded by the National Science Foundation. They had thorough reviews and were granted increased funding for another five years. Plans for a major initiative in the "New Life Sciences" are on track for the development of important new research programs. Cornell's new Duffield Hall is well on the way to completion. The facility will provide vitally needed new resources for Cornell's renowned nanostructure science and technology.
Were these ordinary times, we would be looking forward to a future with unbridled optimism. These are not ordinary times. There are deeply troubling circumstances in the world around us. We are in a war in Iraq. The United States and New York State economies are very fragile. Furthermore, the consequences of the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, are likely to force profound changes in how universities proceed with research and teaching.
The impact of the war in Iraq and the weak state and national economies means less money for research. Federal, state, and private funding have already shown signs of decrease. Some of our ambitions for future development must be curtailed, at least in the short term. We face several difficult years.
After the destruction of the World Trade Center and a portion of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, our government is anxious to protect the country from terrorist threats. A series of laws has been passed to prevent potential terrorists or terrorist organizations from using the teaching and research capabilities of American universities. The laws (or their implementations) deny access to certain classes of research materials—called select agents—to people from eight terrorist-sponsoring countries. Background investigations are to be made on all individuals with access to select agents. A second set of regulations would impose a new classification, "sensitive but unclassified," on the results of some research. Publication of "sensitive" material will be restricted.
Cornell is an open university. We have long-standing principles related to access to Cornell research. No publication restrictions, other than voluntary ones by faculty, can be accepted. The results of all Cornell research are available to all in the community. The new regulations are in direct conflict with Cornell principles.
In the coming year we face two challenges. The first is how to sustain the important research infrastructure we have built. The second is how to retain our institutional values of access and openness. Both challenges require help from the entire Cornell community.
Robert C. Richardson
Vice Provost for Research
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© 2003 by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research [OVPR], Cornell University.
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Ithaca, New York
E: VP Research