U of I supports ‘Innovation: An American Imperative’ call to action

After being in session last week, Congress spent this week in a district work-period. Both the House and Senate will return in full force on Tuesday to consider appropriations and other matters.

ED Pivots Away from Rating System

The Department of Education (ED) announced late last week that they will not be implementing a full-scale college ratings system. Instead of issuing singular ratings for institutions, they will be unveiling a set of consumer tools. In ablog post penned by Deputy Under Secretary Jamienne Studley, she notes that ED plans “to release new, easy-to-use tools that will provide students with more data than ever before to compare college costs and outcomes.” The tools will allow students “to reach their own conclusions about a college’s value.”

Since President Barack Obama originally charged ED with this task two years ago, ED has been hit with opposition from both Congress and the higher education community. Concerns have been expressed through written comments, meetings, and public forums.

The new system has not yet been named, but is expected to be released by late summer.


The University of Illinois joined more than 250 universities and industry, science, and higher education organizations in supporting a call to action called “Innovation: An American Imperative.” The statement—which is directed to federal lawmakers—stresses policies that are key to the United States remaining a global innovation leader. It draws attention to findings from a 2014 report produced by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences entitled “Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream.” Among its seven points, the statement calls for Congress to renew federal commitment to scientific discovery and improve student achievement in STEM.

Last Tuesday’s official release of the statement was amplified via social media, particularly on Twitter with the hashtag #InnovationImperative. Illinois Rep. Randy Hultgren displayed his support for the cause as he took to his own Twitter profile and stated “Our nation can continue to stimulate improvements in advanced #manufacturing”—another one of the seven points.

Other Illinois institutions and entities—including Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University System, and John Deere—expressed their support for the initiative.
Urbana VCR Participates in AAU SRO-NIH Roundtable

Urbana Vice Chancellor for Research Peter Schifferspent some time in DC to participate in a special roundtable opportunity at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), organized by AAU for Senior Research Officers (SRO). Senior NIH officials, including NIH Director Francis Collins, joined the SRO’s to discuss significant funding and policy issues, such as the BRAIN and precision medicine initiatives, computing and data access, and the sustainability of the biomedical enterprise.


ACES Professor Presents at Hill Briefing
Urbana College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Professor Scott Irwin served as a speaker at a Hill event that focused on the value of public sector agricultural data and statistics. The briefing was hosted by the Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis (FASA), a recently-established coalition comprised of industry leaders, researchers, and analysts who support the maintenance and growth of agriculture, food, and resource statistics and analysis. During this inaugural FASA event, Professor Irwin spoke about why public data is so important for modern agricultural markets.
UI President Tim Killeen was recently elected chairman of the board of directors of the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC), a non-profit organization comprised of Illinois research universities, federal labs, Fortune 500 corporations, and civic organizations. ISTC and UI have a shared vision for leveraging Illinois’ research and innovation capabilities to bolster the state’s economy. President Killeen officially began his role as chairman yesterday.

Thank you,

Melissa Haas | Acting Director | OGR Federal Relations