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Research at Vanderbilt

Zeppos urges Congress to prioritize research universities and academic medical centers

Posted on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 — 2:07 PM

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos (Vanderbilt University)

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos (Vanderbilt)

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos spent Feb. 12 and 13 in Washington, D.C., meeting with congressional leaders and making the case for federal investments in science and engineering research and education. He also advocated for reforms to Medicare that recognize the important role of academic medical centers in training future health care providers and caring for our region’s sickest patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

The visit follows a joint op-ed Zeppos wrote with University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro in November urging Congress to avoid the across-the-board cuts that would “hinder long-term economic growth, security and prosperity.”

Zeppos urged Congress to avert the impending across-the-board budget cuts and to address the critical fiscal challenges confronting the nation. He explained that the current state of budget uncertainty is extremely frustrating to university researchers whose work is in limbo as grants are delayed or cut and challenging to university administrators who must make long-term budget plans. While lawmakers were sympathetic and largely understanding of the important role federally supported research plays in the nation’s  economic growth and national security, the consensus was that cuts are likely to occur over the coming months.

Lawmakers also were keenly interested to learn more about the steps Vanderbilt has taken in recent years to increase access and affordability to all qualified students regardless of their ability to pay. In an era in which  universities are facing increasing scrutiny related to costs, graduation rates, employment prospects and student debt, Vanderbilt’s story was very well received on Capitol Hill.

Over the course of two days, Zeppos met with Sen. Lamar Alexander, Reps. Jim Cooper, Marsha Blackburn, Chuck Fleischmann, Phil Roe, Luke Messer of Indiana (VULS ’94),  as well as staff in the offices of Sen. Bob Corker and Reps. Diane Black and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).

To cap off the trip, Cooper invited Zeppos to attend the State of the Union as his guest.

Joining Zeppos on his congressional visits were Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Beth Fortune and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Federal Relations Christina West.