"Science in the National Interest: A Shared Commitment” - MIT Symposium (Session 3/3) 2/7/1995
MODERATOR: So I'd now like to begin the final speaking session of today's program. And it's my great pleasure to introduce someone you've already heard from through her questions-- that's MRC Greenwood. MRC's-- I think for many of you here who know her-- she's one of these unusual people, where after you've met them once for about an hour, you feel like this is a really close friend. So yes, a special warmth which she communicates instantly.
This is in spite of the fact, in my own case, that when I first met her here at MIT, Ernie had to come up for a trip-- almost the first thing she says to me is, she says, oh, Bob, she says-- this is stealing from a lawyer-- very into this joke-- how do you tell the difference between a dead hog on the highway and a dead dean on the highway? And the answer, of course, is that the hog is the one with the skid marks.
Anyway, in spite of that-- [LAUGHS]
In spite of that beginning with MRC, nevertheless, we have since, in fact, I think become quite good friends. At least, from my side. Anyway, MRC, as you know, as you heard earlier, is the Associate Director for Science at the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House and works very closely with Jack Evans. And as you also know, played a central role in producing this document-- Science in the National Interest.
MRC's background before coming to the government was purely in academia. She began as a undergraduate at Vassar, was a graduate student at Rockefeller-- that's right. Then went from Rockefeller to Columbia, from Columbia to Vassar, where-- that's where she ended up being Chairman of the Department at Vassar and a chaired professor. She then went from Vassar to UC Davis where she became Dean of Graduate Studies and was there for four years as a dean, so the dean's joke had content. She has a--
She has a distinguished research career in developmental cell biology, genetics, physiology, and nutrition. And specifically, she's done work which has been really wildly heralded-- leadership research on the genetic causes of obesity. She's been highly recognized with lots of awards, including, among other things, two years ago, election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy. And it's a great pleasure to welcome MRC to chair this session.
GREENWOOD: Thank you very much, Bob. It's really a great pleasure to be back here at MIT, and it does-- he's just convinced me that I should stop telling my dean jokes. Maybe I should go back to lawyers, because these keep coming back to haunt me. Jack's talked about the crook on the shepherd's staff, and now I've had to hear about the dead hog again.
In the interests of preserving a good discussion this afternoon on this topic that we're going into now, which is extremely important and reflects on two of the goals that were articulated by Science in the National Interest, and that is producing the finest scientists and engineers for the next century and in developing a scientifically literate and technologically competent public workforce. The title of today's session this afternoon is, Education for our Future Industrial Needs. I guess I would argue that we are talking in broad terms, at least, about education for our future national needs, economically in industry, and also, of course, as the bedrock of the academic environment as well.
We're going to have four speakers, and I'm going to confine any comments that I have to some wrap-up comments at the end of the session so that we have an opportunity to hear fully from the four individuals who are with us this afternoon. At the end of a long day, I think it's best to get those who have come with their minds fully prepared to share their thoughts with us up forward. And then those of us who primarily came to listen and learn-- namely myself-- to have an opportunity, perhaps, to point out some commonalities between the perspectives expressed and those of us who are trying to work productively with the external communities to build this very important partnership between academia, industry, and the government.
Our first speaker this afternoon is very well known to any of you who are interested in the problems of drawing into the next century women and people from underrepresented groups who would be the leaders of the scientific revolutions of the 21st century along with the more traditional sources of students that we've been able to inspire for well over a century in our great research universities. Sheila Tobias has a distinguished career as a scientist and as a writer. Her recent book, Science as a Career-- Perceptions and Reality, is the third in a series of books that she's written for the Research Corporation as part of a long-term research and writing assignment in an area called "neglected issues in science education."
The first two, which I commend to you if you have not read them-- the first which are, They're Not Dumb, They're Different-- Stalking the Second Tier, and Revitalizing Undergraduate Science-- Why Some Things Work and Most Don't. Both of these issues, Stalking the Second Tier and Why Some Things Work and Some Don't, continue to vex us as we move into the future.
She's been a college lecturer and administrator at City College of New York, Cornell, Wesleyan, and many other distinguished institutions around the country. She was educated in History and Literature at a famous institution here in the city of Cambridge, Harvard/Radcliffe. She's Phi Beta Kappa and holds a master's degree in European History and Politics from Columbia, and two honorary doctorates in Humane Letters, and one in Education. I've followed Sheila's work for many years, and I think it will be a real pleasure for us to hear from her first this afternoon. Sheila?
TOBIAS: I've decided to stand in the middle and use this portable microphone. Is it on? And the transparencies-- one of the things that happens when you change cultures, which I've done in my career-- I've begun to work with scientists, not in science-- is that you discover other means of communication, and I've become very attached to transparencies-- more, obviously, than the rest of you. So I'm going to stand right here and use my transparency.
Let me begin by noticing what was, for me, a serious missing issue at this meeting as I would formulate it. It's the question of how to maintain the attachment of young scientists to science who do not have jobs in science-- who are unemployed or underemployed. And if you talk to them, they have no certainty that they will ever be employed in science. I was surprised. There was nothing mentioned of the jobs problem, which is by now real and undeniable. And I just wanted to make sure that I mentioned it, if no one else did.
I think high on the priority list of the people going around the country to have these hearings should be of the need to figure out ways to increase demand for science-trained professionals. For me as an educator, education-- and I'm going to make that case today-- is one means, actually, of stimulating demand. To anticipate my remarks, if we can differently educate different kinds of students for different kinds of work in science, we can actually increase the demand for science-trained professionals.
But it would be remiss of me to let you believe that education is, by itself, going to do the job. I think as a nation, we have an obligation to find ways of continuing to supply students to government and industry and universities. We also have an obligation to continue to create a demand for them so they can have reasonable lives. And that's really why I am going to-- and the context in which I'm going to present my argument today.
You may wonder why-- and MRC misspoke, which I take as a flattery, that I am not a scientist. And you might wonder why the one person on your program who's not a scientist was the one person asked to talk with you-- open your discussion about undergraduate education in science. Now, I think the reason is that most of those scientists and mathematicians and engineers who are engaged now in education reform at the undergraduate level-- there are legions of them, they're very dedicated-- most of them are dealing pretty exclusively with in-classroom issues-- issues of pedagogy, issues of curriculum, issues of appropriate technology for teaching and learning.
Unlike them, because my background is social science, I've been dealing with what social scientists call the deep structures of undergraduate education. Not the means by which some immediately obvious problem can be solved by an improved technology or curriculum. My questions have been-- these deep structures have been questions like this.
Looking at whom we recruit to science and what we expect them to do with the science they learn in college. That, to me, is not beyond a conversation. That's something we should be discussing. Whom do we recruit to science in college? What do we tell them we expect them to do with their science in college?
What is the culture of the classroom in science? How does that culture, apart from intelligence or talent, serve to discourage other kinds of students from participating in science? What are the assumptions that are made by science faculty about teaching and learning? And how are those assumptions operationalized in the classroom? And when have they last examined those assumptions that they make about who can learn science and how people demonstrate ability to learn science and who can't?
How are we to teach vertical subjects? These are real, intractable problems. How can you talk about innovative means of teaching subjects that are highly vertical in their structure? How can you talk about different topical sequences when, as you know better than I, in social science, there is a comfortable nesting of concept within concept, and that is unique to science.
And above all-- and I want to put a handmade transparency here for you to look at as I mentioned this. Above all, how do we deal with the ideology of recruitment and advancement in science, which is based on my observations four support polls which are extremely difficult to get scientists to acknowledge and to break away from. The elitism-- that is to say, only the very best can do science. People with a very special quality of mind can do science. But if you're doing very well in political science or in literature, it may not bear at all on your capacity to do science.
Something I call predestinarianism-- a notion that if your talent for science is there at all, it's going to show up early, if at all. And if you haven't shown that interest, that talent, that inclination by age 15 or 10 or eight, there's really no point teaching you. There's really no point winning you to the subject, because it starts early, if at all.
The notion that science is a calling so that the undergraduate with multiple interests and multiple talents who's not yet sure if she or he wants to go to law school or maybe medicine or maybe geology or maybe literature is considered not a serious student of science. Because serious students of science are quite single-minded, with some exceptions. But to reveal to your science instructor that you're wavering between science and some other subjects is to be taken less seriously.
And altogether, what we in social science call a solipsism, meaning that there is a tendency on the part of instructors of undergraduates to extrapolate back from their own experience-- to see some students as younger versions of themselves, exciting to teach, exciting to open these doors to, and others as not interesting at all. And so underlying the-- whether or not we change a curriculum or change a pedagogy-- it seems to me if we don't change some of these ideas about who can do science when that ability to do science first manifests itself, and then how we deal with students who perhaps are a little different, I don't think we're going to make much progress as regards inclusiveness.
In the course of my research, I've had to formulate some new questions and invent some new methodologies to get at new truths. For example, I asked the question some years ago, what would happen if we enrolled extremely able learners from fields other than science in traditional introductory physical science courses-- physics and chemistry at college? What would it be like if they were in every way equal, or potentially equal, to their instructors in intelligence, in ability to focus, in self-discipline, in verbal fluency-- only different in one variable-- that they were new to the field. What could we learn about how science is packaged, how it appears to otherwise extremely intelligent students?
The reason I formulated the question that way is, it's very hard for teachers teaching undergraduates to get the kind of feedback from them that they take seriously. Because after all, the undergraduates are very young. They can't articulate exactly what their problems are, and they do have problems that good learners don't have. And from that research which MRC's recommended to you-- the book was called, They're Not Dumb, They're Different-- emerge what I call a Tier Analysis of the typical college introductory course in physical science. And I'll talk about the introductory course a couple of times today, as well as the major.
In essence, that when the professor looks out at the sea of faces in early September of a new year in an intro physics or chemistry course, and those are the two fields I've studied-- he or she looks out and sees, consciously or not, a small group of students who remind him or her of themselves as younger learners who are exciting to teach, who are-- I call them the First Tier-- students who-- in fact, I go so far as to say probably would teach themselves. Almost doesn't matter what curriculum-- what pedagogy. They are dedicated to becoming scientists or to learning science at a fast clip.
And then everybody else is lumped together. Again, perhaps not consciously, by the professor as Them. As a group of very different students whose needs whose reasons for being there are somehow mysterious, whose response to the material is unfamiliar, who are very hard to teach, and whose learning styles are difficult to understand.
And what I tried to do in this first research about undergraduate science teaching and learning was to offer to the science community a slightly more refined way of thinking about the Them in that surface-- namely, that it consists of a number of different kinds of students. Not to deny that there is a First Tier, who are younger versions of themselves-- really easy and a joy to teach. But that among those who are unfamiliar are gradations of difference that are as different, one from another, as they are from the First Tier. And that the most interesting group within that-- and I'll come back to them several times today as regards demand-- is the Second Tier.
The Second Tier of students I have defined operationally as otherwise extremely able young people who are going far in their lives by means of other disciplines and whose alienation from science through that first negative experience comes back and haunts the science community. They become the journalists and the editors. They become elected or not-so-elected officials.
They become spokespeople. I didn't want to say it, but if you insist. Many of them become lawyers. They are out there, and they bring with them, from the limited experience they have in science, three lessons that are not reversed. One, that they're not very good at it. You let them know that quick. Two, that they don't like it very much. And three-- and this is a natural self-defense of a bruised ego-- that it's probably not very important. And off they go into the world.
So the Tier Analysis was perceived by me and by others as very significant. It became obvious to me that we needed to look not just as where things were not going well, but also at who does the job well. And I did another study called Revitalizing Undergraduate Science in which I looked at a number of cases where science was being taught successfully. And my definition of successful was high recruitment, high retention, high morale.
And in these places I found-- and it is not, perhaps, central to all of your interests but I'll report it anyway-- that in most places, it wasn't the gimmicky curriculum. It wasn't the brand new pedagogy, however well-defined these are these days. It was really a quality of attention to students' needs-- a set of expectations that were realistic. In some of the fancier schools, students would say that this course did not play to my strengths. In these places where science was more popular, and where it was doing a very, very good job, a variety of strengths would generate a successful and winning experience in science for the student. And so we learn from that.
But the third study MRC remembered, also for Research Corporation, which produces these books and distributes them at almost no cost, is a study of science as a career. And I want you to consider, as I go through these remarks, the role that science education at the undergraduate level could play in promoting science more generally among the public. We've talked some about that today-- the need to package it better, to sell it better, to convey to the public what it needs to know. And I've heard the term "science literacy" use loosely, as if there was a binary distribution of people-- those who are extremely well-educated in science and those who almost know nothing. And I want to raise the possibility with you that there is a population out there of people whom we could educate as undergraduates in science for different purposes who could serve us very well in promoting science.
What we're challenging in the book that we're writing right now is the common view that demand creates supply-- that we have to wait passively for demand for science-trained professionals to make itself felt. And then in response, supply will be generated. We're trying to make the case that we can stimulate demand by restructuring supply.
And the argument goes like this. If we were to target some different populations-- let me find my next one-- of undergraduates-- now, not just for the first course, but actually through the major. If, for example, we could get this Second Tier to stay in science longer, to do more science-- and I'm not talking here about PhDs by any means, but at least through the major or through a substantial chunk of science in combination with other majors-- we could, I think, by itself-- by increasing the numbers of students who are pursuing science at the undergraduate level, improve the quality and the numbers of people teaching high school. That's obvious.
Even more importantly, I think, is to increase the mix of people practicing a wide range of support activities for science. And before you perhaps dismiss the notion that there are a wide range of support activities for science, let me throw on the transparency board a list of tasks for science that Linda Wilson, who is president of Radcliffe and herself a chemist, has come up with just for you to contemplate as I make the case. That among the tasks for science are all of these. There are 10 there.
You can read at your leisure-- of which discovery of knowledge-- of new knowledge, which we heard much about today-- is one, and an extremely important one. And one for whom, I would not venture to challenge you, only a few extremely talented people are qualified or qualifiable. But forgotten very often in the education agenda at the undergraduate level is that there are many other tasks in science, for science, that will support science to which other kinds of students might be directed, whose interest in science is real, whose capacity for learning science is substantial, but who are not necessarily going to a PhD or going to become a principal investigator or going to do bench research for most of their lives.
And so when we talk about increasing the mix of people who pursue science at the undergraduate level, it shouldn't be misunderstood that we're going to flood the graduate schools and the PhD programs with all of these, especially in a time of jobs shortage. But rather, that we could create from these populations a group of people who could do different kinds of jobs in science, which in the aggregate together, would promote science in the community. They could become a support system for science.
And the third value in looking to educate the Second Tier, so-called, or students like them, is that it could provide a jump start in demand for science-trained professionals in other fields. In other words, there are two specific target populations that I think we are missing in our recruitment of undergraduates to the science major. One of them is the student who likes science very much, would enjoy doing science, might even do it through the master's degree in order to participate in science in a different way than at the bench. The second population that I think we've ignored out of the elitism or perhaps the solipsism-- you can choose your cause-- is the group of students who are on their way to other professions, quite determined to be in law or in business or in journalism or in government, but for whom the science training at the undergraduate level could give them a base from which they could become good problem solvers, to be sure. But a base from which they could bring a pro-science orientation to whatever realms in which they operated later-- bring that science orientation to insurance or to banking or to any of these others.
And I think those two populations might have a nice overlap. I don't want to demarcate any more than you have demarcated in the past. But I think that an effort-- a real campaign to attract such students to the science major, possibly altered in some ways, would be very useful. And let me move now, in the interest of time, to some of those models.
In the research we did for this book, we found a number of programs that are limping along. They don't have as much support nationally as they might. And let me just see if I can-- here we are. And let me just go through some examples of these.
Some of the majors that will attract these two different target populations are going to look a little different from some of the majors that have really been designed to move students efficiently and rapidly through the undergraduate program so that they can move on to graduate school in science, clearly. And because there's been no central national interest in these populations, a number of schools have had to be inventive on their own-- bootstrap their way into some of these imaginative programs. And I've just put them into some categories for the sake of walking you briefly through them. And if you want much more information, I'd be glad to tell you where these are taking place.
One route is the enhanced traditional-- a traditional major in the physical sciences that is enhanced or enriched with something else. And often, it is the "other else" is another science. It has always struck me, as an outsider, as remarkable how little chemistry a physics major has to learn, or knows, even, by the time he or she finishes. Or the absence of biology in a rigorous way from the straight chemistry majors' career line. Or of course, again, from physics. And so in these instances, they haven't gone all the way to modifying the major and challenging that. But they're trying to offer some enrichment in a lateral direction-- in a sideways direction for their undergraduate majors.
Others have taken the next step and recommended or created closely-knit strong minors. That is to say, the student doesn't have the freedom to choose any minor, but a particular minor has been designed in conjunction with the discipline that's offering it, such that the student with the strong major and strong minor is having an integrated coherent program. And among those are chemistry with business in a number of places-- physics with business, where the business courses are not the ordinary business courses, because they might be not as too and maybe to elementary. But courses in legal issues of regulation would be a business course that the physics major would be emboldened to take as part of this dual major-- a strong minor.
The next away from traditional would be the dual major-- actually two majors where some amount of the science is lopped off. It has to be. There's a limited amount of time credits that could be gotten. Others go so farther-- they are actually interdisciplinary. I refer you to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has now a material science program people can take in the biological line or in the chemical line or as an engineering major. My typing leaves something to be desired. "Applied science," that was supposed to read.
And we are informed by Werner Wolf, who is at Yale and who wrote an article in Physics Today recently, that when he did a survey of what physics majors take in addition to their major, he found, to his shock, that only 2% even take computer science courses. Fewer than 1% take chemistry courses. And they are not, many of them, involved in applied science. That's going a little farther afield, but it is being considered by a number of places.
There are places where science and technology are formally integrated in non-engineering programs. And then, close to my heart, are places where a core sequence of some science is being offered or sold to social science majors-- those people who will move into government, who will be in regulation, so that they have something equivalent to what the premedical student might have. Or maybe even, ideally, equivalent to what the MIT undergraduate would have who would major here in social science or core-- and I put in parentheses-- coherent science sequence for business and economics majors.
So you can see where I'm going with this. It seems to me that we are depriving a group of extremely able, if differently configured, undergraduates of an opportunity to learn science sequentially and learn a lot of it. This is not physics for poets. At the same time, we're depriving ourselves-- yourselves as a science community-- of the support and the promotion and the commitment to science that such a population would have if treated seriously and if educated at the undergraduate level. And with that challenge and an invitation to read this book, which has-- there's a chapter from which this comes-- a chapter called "Restructuring Supply--" let me turn to John Armstrong who's my counterpart for Graduate Education. Thank you.
GREENWOOD: I think actually, our next speaker is Jim Vincent, who joined Biogen as its chairman and CEO in 1985. As you know, Biogen is one of the leading biopharmaceutical companies in the world. He formerly served as President of Allied Health and Scientific Products, which is a subsidiary of Allied Signal.
He's a member of the Board of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, Boards of Trustees of both Duke and the University of Pennsylvania. He was selected by Industry Week, I was interested to notice, as one of the Top 15 Industrial CEOs in America in 1990. And New England Business Magazine named him Business Person of the Year.
He received his own bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Duke and a master of business administration from Wharton Graduate Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. So he is already one of these well-integrated individuals that is taking a science background and a business background to very great heights indeed. And we'll be happy to hear what perspectives you can give us this afternoon, Jim. Thanks.
VINCENT: Thank you, MRC. I think it was Yogi Berra, as well, who when I was young and playing football in my younger days, said that C students rule the world. So I didn't worry much about that stuff, even though I was headed for a business career. But now that I have heard John [INAUDIBLE] today talk about the PhDs and professors taking over, and also you see the Republican Party, how they're staffing the new era and the new people and the professors and PhDs are taking over, I think I'd better rethink that paradigm.
I was interested also in Sheila's remarks. I learned something today, which I'm going to tell you that I'm going to engage in some solipsisms today. And also, I learned something that I think my kids, who are in their 20s, are going to really appreciate. That instead of having to hear about when I was a boy and I walked up and down those cobblestone hills both ways to that one-room schoolhouse, I can now say, well, I'm going to have a solipsism for you now, as we go into whatever conversation that relates to something like that.
When Chuck wrote to me, I was quite shocked and taken aback. Chuck Vest, in giving me my remit and wanting me to comment on what changes are needed in undergraduate science education to better prepare students in the future for future needs of the biotech industry and industry in general-- and realizing that the last time I really visited science on an academic basis was when I left Duke University with my mechanical engineering degree in hand in 1961. I'm going to do that, but it's going to be brief, quite frankly, because I think most of this from the perspective that I bring to it in industry in these last 30 years in the electronics business-- the first half of it in semiconductors and in biotechnology-- went from a spark chaser to a bug man in biology in the last half of it-- has been good-- has been good news. So I don't have a lot of things really to delve into there from the viewpoint of the customer, if you will, in industry.
Then I'd like to switch, though, to more-- a few comments about concerns and threats I see at the institutional level which, if not dealt with successfully, will impact undergraduate education, just as it will impact everything else that goes on in the institution. And in that, although I want to comment a little bit about some of this government discussion that's been going on, I also want to jump to some other subjects that don't relate to how government's going to impact the lives of these institutions.
Again, let me come back and say, I think that the educational institutions of this country at the university level that are doing the undergraduate training of our students in science and technology are creating in the main-- of course there's differences and gradations, but in the main-- product and students that meet the needs that we have in the main. I think also you are winning the global competitive battle in market standing and reputation. If you think of this in industry terms, the way we would in big or small companies, most any industry would kill to be in the position that higher education is in this country at both the undergraduate level and the graduate level in terms of the quality of what you're producing and the demand that you have and the worldwide demand that you have.
You could probably-- if you opened your doors, a large percentage of the institutions of this country could fill their classes with students from totally outside the United States. That's quite a testimony when you think on a relative basis of competitive setting. These folks have been at it, some of them, a lot longer than we have in this country-- in Europe and other parts of the world-- in China and Japan.
I would also comment that, in my experience-- again, crossing over from electronics in my days with Texas Instruments, when I spent almost 10 years outside the United States building businesses in Europe for them, and then going and living in Tokyo and building businesses in the Far East from Japan, starting the first non-Japanese semiconductor wholly-owned business in Japan to take on the Japanese in their home country, down through Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and so forth. And in the process of doing that, and since then-- as well in the health care industry-- hiring students-- undergraduate science and technology students, graduate-- into many of these different settings-- that I have commented and continued to comment for years that I think that we in this country, as compared to our counterparts in Europe, in Japan, and other parts of the world, are better preparing students, at least to come into industry from the point of view of the kinds of industries with very rapid change, et cetera, that I've been involved with.
What do I mean by that? I mean it most in the breadth and diversity of the problem-solving skills that the young students are prepared to deal with. They may contain, as compared, for example, to their Japanese or European counterpart-- they may contain, at least if I go back 10 or 15 years-- I'm not as current on this point today-- they may have, in their memory banks, less rote detail that they can use instantaneously in a subspecialty of a subject than their American counterparts. But in the main, I have found them to be more adaptable and more nimble in climbing the new learning curves that classically have to be dealt with in a very-- in an environment of very high rates of change, and that I've lived in.
Also, I think you're in a healthy situation from the point of view of the markets for your graduates-- are very strong. I hear complaints, I hear concerns just like I hear it, for example, in my Penn experience at the Wharton School for the graduate MBAs. They wring their hands a lot these last several years about how, oh my god, it's so much more difficult to get a job, and so on, and so on. When you really scratch on it and look at it, most of them in that setting are still winding up with two and three jobs for a person.
What they're finding is-- and I think this is a lot of this translation of greater difficulty-- is that the market is restructuring. It is a realistic fact that Fortune 500 world has been shrinking in employment for 15 years. We read about-- this is true. This is true. And all of the growth in the economy in terms of new jobs has come in the entrepreneurial economy.
So that changes the challenge that both our undergraduate students have, be it science or whatever, and our graduate students. They have to look different places. They have to be taught to think differently about how they go to a job search. It's not like when I came out and 87 companies show up and the big decision was, which seven or eight do I want to interview with, and what competitive system do you design to divide up who they can talk to? That's a-changing. And I assume that's also true here at MIT. And I would suggest that that's going to get more so.
So teaching them how to think differently about how to go about a job search and where the jobs are-- the Willie Sutton approach. Where is the new money? Don't go to parking meters. Where's the money? Where are the banks? It's different places, different techniques. And I think that explains a lot of the-- what is perceived as more difficult, less demand, and so forth.
And then, of course, you have this concern that I hear-- I hear at some of the other schools I'm associated with. I'm sure you have it here, as well-- the hand-wringing of the faculty, from time to time, is, oh my god, here comes the sharks from Wall Street stealing our science students that we have nurtured so assiduously and carefully. And it's going to derail their entire-- what's this going to do? Are they going to take all of them? Are we going to have no more engineers and no more science majors in this country?
I would suggest to you, I wouldn't-- gee, I think it's a testimony of a couple of things. Number one is, you're developing problem solvers that are flexible, that are needed. And I would just say the second thing is, markets have a way of working those things out. Even though Sheila wanted to react before the market, I would suggest markets will deal with that. You'll either get saturated on the non-scientific endeavor side, or those areas that need more scientists will balance out in terms of how they adjust the demand and the price of labor in that sense.
So I just conclude, in terms of where we're at today on undergraduate science training, that we should feel proud about-- very proud about this track record, both domestically and on a global basis, and that we should be thinking about, how do we do more of the same? It doesn't mean we can't improve, of course-- but not get complacent, as any success story. That can be the seeds of disaster.
Because there's no question-- no question that-- and I won't have anything new and fundamental here, but the threats on the horizon to the institutions that, if not dealt with skillfully, could impact the undergraduate as well as graduate educational experience, I think, are-- many of them are obvious, and many of them are quite complex, and it's not straightforward to figure out how to deal with them. So let's go on and point-- let me try to highlight a couple of those. And we'll put this in the category of, maybe, the bad news.
No question-- I guess sitting here-- I sat here and heard all of the comments today, which I found most informative. A lot of it-- I must add for you that it's-- some of it is like inside the beltway in insider baseball kind of stuff, so that if I react to some of this in a way that doesn't sound like I'm connecting very well, I'm probably not. Some of this I'm hearing, some of these words I'm hearing for the first time-- lingo and some of the subtleties and nuances you talk about between the government and everything else I'm straining to connect with. So if I miss here, just give me-- cut me a little slack if I'm off base and correct me, and you can get me later, in the questioning.
First and foremost, clearly, the economic playing field is changing. Of course it is. It's changing a couple of very significant ways. We've heard a number of hours today about how it's changing on the government funding level. And that's the subject-- the number one subject as I go traveling the country and run into academics today.
That is the subject that everybody wants to talk about. I would suggest to you it's also changing in another very significant way, as the days of double-digit tuition increases have got to come to an end. And they're coming to an end quickly, I would forecast for you. And the days of when you sit down with university budgets and face the issue of, how are we going to discipline the increase in expenditures? And you walk up to that cliff and then you back away and say, oh, I can't do that. I can't cut this. Let's just increase the student body some more and dodge that bullet for another year-- I suggest those days are going to have to come to an end as well, as a continuing source of revenue.
Now, let me, first of all, come to the external-- what I'll call the external part of that-- the outlooking-- what can we-- if I were sitting here and I were in Chuck's shoes, what-- or the faculty, what can we do about this, the external part? And specifically as it relates to government? Now-- and then come back for a minute to looking inward-- what can we do institutional? Maybe some thoughts and ideas there.
It seems to me that in the external one as it relates to the federal government-- state, I guess, a little bit, but mostly federal, in this case-- there's the approach that's the heat and there's the approach that's the light. There's two potential parts to this.
I would call the heat part is the classical one of, the pie is shrinking, oh my god. And the way to respond to it is, we've got to sell more. We've got to promote more. We've got to field more lobbyists or whatever we do, however we influence that equation down there inside the beltway. What we have to do is step up the pressure so we get a bigger piece in a zero-sum game of the pie for us. That's the heat part. That's been the classical way.
Most of these things have been dealt with, unfortunately, in Washington for too many years, in my opinion. And I get fed up with it in terms of the industrial issues that I deal with. The health care-- having been involved in spending some very serious personal time in the health care debate in the last year and a half, I got it right up to here with that's what-- it was about-- not as what's best for the country, what's good public policy. I hear that less and less and less in Washington over the past 10 or 15 years.
The light part is the one that says, if we think about it, I think there is maybe a better shot today than-- at least in my relevant political observing life of the last 15 or 20 years-- a better shot today that we can create a new paradigm on a number of fronts here with these tectonic plate changes that seem to be, maybe, occurring. Maybe they are that significant.
And I do believe that we have-- we do have some people down there that-- on the Congress side, for a change, that really are pretty good thinkers. They are professors. They are academicians. Certainly, on the Republican side, this is a whole new experience compared to what it was 25 years ago. I believe many of them really are interested in ideas, in experimentation.
And we see things happening now that looks like it-- at least a greater chance, again, than I've seen for a long time that we will take seriously getting the budget balanced and get an amendment to help bring pressure to that. Getting a line item veto for the president? My god, I think that would be wonderful-- so we could hold that person accountable, for a change.
So anyway, a lot of these things that are being talked about, whether it's the Contract with America or whether what follows that, on the Democratic side-- I don't think this is all Republican. And I think you see these votes in both sides, House and Senate. You see new coalitions forming here that are both Democrat and Republican.
So the point of this is this-- that, again, back to Yogi Berra-- I think he said, if you-- when you come, don't-- always remember, when you come to a fork in the road, take it. And so I would suggest this-- that in addition to going and thinking about the old ways of approaching this, of how can we make sure we get our-- maximize our piece of that pie in the zero-sum game, et cetera, et cetera-- I would encourage you-- and it's not just for the academic and educational establishment, I think it's for other establishments in this country-- to put some serious energy into thinking about the light part of, put yourself in the position of, "maybe some of these leaders and leaders-to-be in the future are in a position of wanting to do some change here with the idea of what is best public policy for this country."
Or put themselves in the role of a CEO of a corporation, where that's what you're trying to optimize all of this, and what is best for employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers. And you're in the role of optimizing it. And the last thing you need, when you get into heavy duty water carrying and when you've got problems on your hands and you've got to deal with-- changing your mission, you've got to deal with downsizing-- the last thing you need is every part of your organization coming at you from the angle that just says, take care of that other person over there, not me. I deserve more. You can't cut me.
You never solve anything that way. Fairly obvious, but if the people are serious down there about trying to change that, they're to need some of that kind of help, because they sure as hell are not going to have all the ideas in the world.
I would also just offer a few-- I'll jump around here for just a little bit. Clearly, I think a relevant question is, what should be the size of this establishment going forward? We have a different set of needs now. Again, the Cold War is over. The academic establishment has been in the business of being what I call the line research organization for the government for quite a number of years for defense, for atomic-- nuclear policy and so-- it's over-- largely over.
That alone would indicate there's got to be a major rethink of what is the-- what is the right size, going forward, of the global resource we're putting into this? I found it unbelievable to hear, this morning, the comment that here we are worried about some serious resource issues across the board, and you have the Galvin Commission saying, not only don't you need a $400 million increase in the DOE laboratories, you can run it on a hell of a lot less. But the budget comes forward with a $400 million increase. Isn't that incredible? Isn't that incredible? That's that mentality of, you never cut or destroy anything.
As a model-- let me now jump and comment on something that's received a lot of discussion. Here's where I get a little lost, sometimes, in some of the inside baseball, as I'm referring to. This science and technology fundamental research and what should the government be doing and funding and what not and so forth-- from the perspective where I sit, I'll tell you, I think we have a model going in this country that I haven't seen a better one that's played out in the last 20 years. And it's the NIH model.
I think it's a model from the point of view of, where do you start with government funding? You stop at the scientific threshold, there. And then it's a model in the sense of how you pass the baton to private industry. And it's a model in the sense of, people talk about how short-term Wall Street is and so on and so on.
Do you realize that in this case, in the biotechnology industry, Wall Street-- private sources have invested more than $10 billion of new money in the last dozen years-- $10 billion-- to take this technology forward that has, in turn, created 250 public firms that are listed on the stock exchange? Another 300 or 400 firms-- only five of us are profitable today on a consistent basis. The rest of the 400 or 500 firms are using cash at the rate of $200 million a month that is being financed largely by private sources at this point in time.
Gee, I think that's some long-term thinking. I think that's evidence that the market can react to and support things that have time horizons that are longer than just a year or two in advance. It's been going on since the late '70s. And there's only four or five of us, they say, that are profitable companies, for God's sake. Everybody else is losing money. And it's still may now. Is there going to be a consolidation? Yep. It's beginning now. But nobody would have forecast you would have gotten this kind of support for that long.
So I think-- again, the NIH model, I think, has worked well from the point of view of-- you see, I think it works because we have a scientific infrastructure in this country that can work with government at the science level to establish excellence. And that works well. And you all do that very, very well.
It's when you have to then have people who have multidisciplinary skills making calls about, how do we go forward from here-- when you've got to have different disciplines in addition to science and you've got to have people who have the invisible hand of Adam Smith on their shoulder-- and so that it becomes a rational process and not a political process.
Political process is one of the great-- one of the great advantage of capitalist system is, it's one of the only systems where things get stopped. Once it gets in a political system, nothing gets stopped. We all hear these fantastic stories about all these agencies we have that go back that were designed for things 100 years ago, and they're still hanging around. Same thing happens when you get the government funding things.
When it gets applied-- I'm going to get in trouble here, using these words. But once you get out of that ability of our system to make decisions on a scientific excellent-- excellence basis, and you need multidisciplinary-- I mean, look at the examples of Japan. I've been there-- oh, my god, I remember the days when I was over there. Oh, we used to hear about Japan. We were going to compete with them in computer seminators. They're planning this thing-- boy, they were, too. They were planning this from Tokyo, how they were going to-- they were going to take over computers in the world. They messed it up. They went with the IBM model too long.
Look at the HGTV story. How many times did we hear they're going to wipe us out in high definition television? Technological gear shift-- they're sitting out there in a cold, in left field. Look at the French model over the years, where they tried to centrally plan that stuff. Doesn't work.
So the science model, the NIH model, I think, works just great. And also, let's not lose the gains we've made. We are the envy of the world when you talk to both academicians and industrial folks in Europe and Japan of the advances we've made in the last 15 years-- 10 years, especially, in the '80s in this country, of how we're able to move science and technology-- science from the universities and the government labs into the private sector. They can't touch us on that. They don't have the trust levels. They don't have the communication levels. They have all other kinds of barriers. They can't touch us on doing that. And so let's not lose that, also, as we go about working with this.
Moving on very quickly, internal-- turning to the internal, what is this funding and that thing do as far as if you're sitting and running one of these institutions? What should thoughts-- some of the thoughts come to mind in business terms. I would say, this looks like to me-- the way we'd describe it is, your largest customer's getting smaller in an economic sense-- government. And your price is too high-- tuition.
And it's not dissimilar to what many industries have faced in the last 15 years. John's comments on the automotive industry-- look at that. In addition to what he pointed out, I think, again, competition and costs being totally out of line and quality getting out of line. And finally, the lights went on and the industry started to move.
And now, arguably, Ford is the lowest-cost producer, as I read it, based on studies here at MIT. Maybe not Toyota, yet. But any rate, may be getting to the point of being lowest-cost producer in the world. Quality levels are changing. You go through the steel industry, et cetera, et cetera. These things happen.
And you've got to sharpen the focus on the mission of the institution. Maybe what it's been built to be over the past 10 or 15 or 20 years-- that the mission should be modified at this point in time. Maybe it doesn't have to be the same to have the contribution and the excellence going forward that it has had-- this one or others-- for the last decades in the past.
Most certainly, I would suggest, it's going to stress leadership of the institutions, of our universities, like they've never been stressed before. Because when you go through this, very hard choices have to be made. And that's where leadership gets stressed enormally-- enormously.
Different couple of subjects I'll just hit quickly and then sit down-- concern. The balance between teaching and research in our undergraduate and graduate, but especially our undergraduate programs, is a concern I have as I interact at different institutions. It still seems to me that the reason-- the most compelling reason we have these places is for the students. And I think our reward system and our career tract, our processes that we set up that lead to career advancement and tenure are out of balance in terms of motivating teaching versus research.
And most interesting, what I find in a number of institutions-- not this one, but others that I interact with-- is, we don't even have the metrics in most of our institutions-- some very good ones-- to even know where we stand on teaching quality with high-quality, real-time dynamic data. I would give you odds that of our top best-- 10 best graduate business schools of this country, that a majority of those schools do not have the metrics to adequately and with high accuracy measure their teaching performance in the schools.
You know what? If we ever had that issue exist in business-- us graduates of those schools-- it would be heresy, something as important as teaching quality, that we wouldn't have the metrics in place to measure that. That would be like saying we don't do any market research on our most important product or customers or something. And we just, in today's world of business technology, would be-- it would be absolute heresy.
So that's where I'd start. I'd say, do we have the metrics to know where we really stand? Are they anonymous and not-- can't be influenced by teachers, coming from the students? Are they real time? Are they dynamic? This is not rocket science in today's world-- how you do this. This is straightforward stuff. And I would say, if you don't measure it, you're not terribly concerned about it-- and if you don't measure it well.
K through 12 education-- oh, my glory. Talk about an issue that can impact-- that is impacting undergraduate education, an issue crying for reengineering-- to use that overused term. How long are we going to sit here and let politicians convince us that the answer is just, pour more money in it. Just keep increasing the real money thrown at the problem, and it's going to solve it-- while results continue to plummet?
And we have models in our environment to benchmark. Look at the parochial schools right here in Boston, down in New York City. They outperform the public schools by a country mile. But yet, we let these forces that we referred to earlier-- unions plus other-- stand in the way, intimidate people about even experimentation that ought to be going on. A major role-- aggressive role, I think, can be played by institutions of this ilk and of this quality in not the coming of the ideas, but really ringing the alarm bells of, let's get on with this. Let's get this nonsense behind us.
And the final point is this issue of diversity. I just think it's very, very important, as we try to balance all of these pressures, that we remember that the date we came with to this party, that created this phenomenal success in this country, is one of a meritocracy and one that is about providing equal opportunities, not equal outcomes. And I think we ought to stay with that date, or we're going to mess up on both fronts. We're going to mess up on the social engineering side and we're going to mess up on the quality of education side. We're not going to do either one of them well. Thank you very much.
GREENWOOD: Thank you, Jim. We're going to-- I think it would be very useful-- Mark and I were sitting here chatting for a second-- if we could integrate the whole discussion about education, including the undergraduate and the graduate education. So if the two speakers to follow don't mind, we'll go forward. And then we'll have a roundtable discussion at the end.
So our next speaker is Dr. Allan Bromley, well-known to all of those in this room, I'm sure, as one of the world's leading nuclear physicists. His laboratory has graduated many leaders in experimental physics. And his scientific reputation is very well known and very well recognized both by the award of the National Medal of Science and his election to the National Academy of Sciences.
But in particular, of course, he was Jack Gibbons' predecessor-- immediate predecessor as the Assistant for Science and Technology to the President of the United States and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. So he brings to us not only his new perspective as Dean of Engineering at Yale and the perspective that that-- that he brings, with that, to graduate education, but also his recent perspective on the politics of Washington and the changing environment in which both undergraduate and graduate education will be operating for the foreseeable future.
So Allan, if you'll take the podium.
BROMLEY: Thank you, Marcy. I don't think I need to emphasize to anyone in this room that we have what could be described as a paradoxical situation in education. There's a general agreement that we have the finest graduate education anywhere in the world because we're the only nation. The only developed nation that doesn't have some sort of centralized standards for what constitutes a college education, we have peaks of excellence that are way beyond world standards, like this one here at MIT, and we also have vast swamps of mediocrity that defy description. But if we average the whole thing--
--we are probably competitive with the rest of the world. It's at the pre-college level where things really go to hell. And we've heard something of this. I funded a major attempt to improve the ETS international comparative examinations in '92. And when they were applied to a universe of 22 nations, not to anyone's great surprise, we fared worse than in any previous test. We were number 21 in a universe of 22 nations, just behind Slovenia and just ahead of Jordan.
And so we have problems. But my task this afternoon, as I understand it, as Chuck Vest pointed out to me-- although I'm not going to do exactly what he said. I never do--
VEST: [INAUDIBLE] does anybody else.
BROMLEY: I'm going to talk about graduate education. And I want to talk about it in-- at least at the beginning, in rather general terms. And I want to focus on problems. And unless anyone really gets too discouraged, let me telegraph my conclusion that I am, fundamentally, an optimist, always have been, and remain one. But we do have some serious problems. Let me just touch on a few of them.
One of the most serious is the fact that universities, and particularly the research universities-- about somewhere between 150 and 175 of the 3,000 colleges and universities in this country have a very serious problem in that we have lost, very quickly, over a very short period, the trust and respect that we had, unquestionably, for decades after World War II. And we've lost it because of a very small number of incidences-- all of you know about them-- that have been very highly publicized, hyped beyond all belief.
But the fact remains that we have lost the trust and respect of the Congress and of the public. And one of our major goals-- one of our major-- absolute requirements in the future is to work as hard as we can to reestablish and regain that trust and that respect, because without that, we are going to have grave difficulties in almost every activity in which we engage.
At the University end of the equation, I find a year ago-- a little more than a year ago, now, I had the opportunity to visit a great many of these research intensive universities. And there's an overwhelming decrease in the level of confidence of the students, of the faculty-- everyone. Everyone's worried.
They're worried about whether there's going to be adequate support for research activities. They're worried about whether there are going to be adequate career opportunities for their students. And, indeed, a great many people are fundamentally worried about the future of our entire society. And they have some not unreasonable bases for those worries.
But I think that one of the most serious questions that we have to address is the fact that over the past decades, we have allowed the career horizons of our graduate students to shrink. And in fact, a great many graduate students today feel that they achieve first-class citizenship only by cloning their professors' career, laboratory, lifestyle, you name it, as quickly as possible.
On this trip that I mentioned earlier, I was able to predict, after I had visited a relatively small number of institutions, that the more prestigious the institution, the more certain it was that sometime during the day of our meeting, somebody was going to say, essentially verbatim, "if my grant doesn't come through, I may have to consider industry" as if this was some exquisite form of prostitution.
There is a very low survival potential in this sort of thing. And it's something that clearly is, I think, the fault of the faculty, not the students. Now, I'll come back to that in just a moment.
We tend to take our leadership in higher education, I think, a little too much for granted. We are focused, as we must be, on what's happening at pre-college, what's happening at the undergraduate level. And there's a great tendency just to assume that things will go on as in the past, that in the graduate schools of the nation, we will continue to set world standards and all will be reasonably well. That, however, I think is unrealistic and certainly not the way the future seems to look both from my days in Washington and, now, back at a major university.
I think we have to bear in mind that in December of '92, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a couple members of whom are here today, issued a report called "Renewing the Promise." It was one of a pair of twin reports, one viewed from outside of government, one from inside of government, of that vital interface between the research universities and the federal government. And the first recommendation in that report was that the universities are necessarily going to learn to live in situations of constrained support. In fact, we're going to have to learn to live with less.
Some very difficult-- some very wrenching decisions are going to be required. What it means is that even the most prestigious university can no longer expect to have departments in every field of human activity. Nor are we going to be able to have subactive-- activity in the subfields of the departments that remain. And weak departments are going to have to be sacrificed in order to release the resources necessary to keep those that remain at a level of world-class excellence.
And the three keywords are excellence, selectivity-- to retain that excellence-- and regional cooperation, so that students are not denied the variety of access to fields, courses, and activities that they have become used to. What it means is that we have to cooperate with other institutions on a regional basis and be prepared to give credit to activities in different institutions.
Now, I think also one of our key problems is that when the first flush of federal funding arrived in the 1950s, most of the bridges that had been built over many years between the research universities and the private sector were burned with considerable enthusiasm. At the time, the idea was, what the hell, we've got lots of money. We don't need to worry about anything. And some terrible stereotypes developed.
The folk in the private sector, understandably, decided that the students were left-wing radicals that they wouldn't much want anyway. And the students returned the favor by considering the industrial leaders as money-grubbing Philistines. And that's the wonderful situation in which we have been living for far too long.
The bridges are being rebuilt at the moment. And I'm all for it. It's far past the appropriate time. But there is a problem. In most of the nation's universities, the focus in this rebuilding process is on the development of these cooperative interactions as a mechanism to bring industrial funding, support, to the universities. It is not what is on what is vastly more important-- namely, bringing some real-world experience, exposure to the university so that the students broaden their career horizons, understand what tremendous challenges and opportunities there are outside the normal academic confines.
And this report that I just mentioned, as one of its other major recommendations, said that even though we're the most mobile of all societies anywhere on the planet, we have to really increase the amount of exchange, because, as has been said several times here today, the only way you transfer anything-- technology, knowledge, experience-- is in the heads of humans. And we have to start exchanging more people between our universities, our federal laboratories, and industry, because everyone will gain as we do that.
And the real world input that can come from bringing industrialists and government folk into the major universities to interact-- and it isn't workable on an afternoon basis. It has to be for a matter of days and weeks so that people can get to know one another and get to realize that the stereotypes that I've just mentioned simply are that-- they're stereotypes. And they really have to be wiped out.
Now, it's important, too, that we begin to focus on the fact that the average degree-- undergraduate or graduate-- has a half life that is shrinking fast, and that education must be a lifelong activity. And we haven't done anywhere near as much as we should have done or can do in making continuing education not only convenient but attractive. The whole question of finding out what the customer and industry wants for continuing education-- we have the means and the people, facilities to provide it. But the conversation hasn't really gone on adequately for this.
I'm finding, as a brand new dean of engineering, that a rather remarkable thing about engineering projects is that the first 10% of the decisions commit something like 90% of all the resources that go into that project. And most engineers aren't very good at those first 10% of the decisions. They're great on the other 90% of the nuts and bolts.
The first 10% involve questions of economics, management, ethics-- all sorts of things that are not part of the traditional engineering toolkit. That, I think, is a challenge that all of us involved in education at the graduate level-- and undergraduate-- have to take seriously. We have to prepare individuals for leadership and for being able to participate in those critical first 10% of the decisions.
And let me also emphasize that we have been singularly ineffective as a political constituency. There has been an arrogance and a tendency to believe that sooner or later, those folk in Washington would catch on that what we were doing was so important that they would fund it without any effort on our part, and without our having to mess with that political stuff which really is not all that pleasant. If that was ever true-- and I doubt it-- it certainly isn't true now.
And the thing that concerns me most is that there are so many academics who go see their senator or their representative only when there is a crisis. And that is not going to work. And I keep urging and have been urging and will continue to urge in whatever forum I have that it is vitally important to make connections with your representative and your senator when you don't really want anything.
Take them to lunch. You'll have wonderful time. He'll be sliding forward, or she will be sliding forward on their chair because they know that you're going to ask for something. And if you don't do it, they will be so damned amazed they will remember you forever.
This is critically important. And just the people in this room could make an enormous difference in what the future Congress, this Congress, 104th, is going to do with respect to science and technology if each one of you, as a constituent, were to talk to your representatives and your senators. It's one of the most important things you could possibly do.
And one of the things that all of us have tended to forget, both in government and in the universities, is what was learned way back in 1946, when we started the whole question of federal support of universities-- namely, that we were involved in an investment, not a procurement. And all too often, we slip back into the procurement idea, where getting research done in a university requires roughly the same paperwork as buying a battleship, and much of the same intellectual content.
What we really need to do is remember that we are not only buying research and new knowledge, young people trained to use that knowledge, but we're also investing in a capability which is unique in this country. It's one of the gems of this country. And it's the envy of the rest of the world. That's the entire research enterprise.
Now, we have not yet, either, succeeded fully in developing a new vision of why and what and how research and development should be done in this country and what its goals should be. The mission that was articulated in Vannevar Bush's remarkable book Science, the Endless Frontier back in 1945 served us astonishingly well for the last half of the 20th century. But it is certainly not adequate for the 21st.
It's important to recognize, for example, that Bush really didn't even mention industry in any substantial way in that report, because the assumption was that if the taxpayer funded the universities, that new knowledge and trained young people would find their way into industry in ways that need not concern the federal government. We know of course, that is not the case. Now, a good start has been made in the document that the Clinton administration has produced, the science for-- what is it? Science for--
BROMLEY: That's right.
You see, I have a small mental block about this.
Now, let me finish.
Having raised a whole series of depressing issues, all of which I believe to be very real, let me shift gears in closing and simply point out that I really am remarkably optimistic about our future as a nation, our future as a civilization, our future in science and technology. And perhaps the major reason for that is that when I think back to my graduation as a fledgling engineer, close to 50 years ago, I remember that television and antibiotics were both laboratory curiosities, that polio stalked the summer playgrounds and swimming pools so that your parents had you hidden away for the summer, that the DC-3 was the backbone of the transportation industry, that portable telecommunications equipment was firmly in the domain of Dick Tracy, and that man in space was science fiction.
Now, all of that has changed, and changed dramatically, in 50 years. And you would have to be vastly more pessimistic than I am to conclude that the next 50 years will not see developments, discoveries, and surprises that will make those of the last 50 pale by comparison. And I conclude that those of us here today are among the very fortunate few in our race who have had the privilege of being involved in the great adventure that is science and technology. Thank you.
GREENWOOD: Thank you very much, Dr. Bromley. And we'll go on, now, to get the perspective from John Armstrong, who is well known, I know, to the MIT audience, because he's a member of the visiting committee of the physics department here and has been the chair of the NRC study on the future of space science.
I've gotten to know Dr. Armstrong a bit in the past year or so, partly as a consequence of the Forum on Science in the National Interest, and also as a consequence of his generous donation of time and thoughtfulness to some of the proposals that we're trying to work together with you and others on. As many of you no doubt know, Dr. Armstrong has recently retired as the Vice President of Science and Technology from IBM, where he had a very distinguished career in research, both in terms of his own research interest, research productivity, and as one of the distinguished research managers and leaders in this country in what was then and continues to be one of the most exciting industries of the recent past and the foreseeable future.
I know he has a great deal to say to us about how the-- his perspective on graduate education and the future of science and technology has been shaped both by his own experiences and by current events. So I won't stand in the way of his presentation, and give us an opportunity to get on to the audience participation and discussion that I really think we need to have. So, John, if I could get you [INAUDIBLE].
ARMSTRONG: Well, thank you, Marcy. And thank you all for being here. Unlike Allan, I always try to do what Chuck Vest asks me to do.
So I am going to try to comment more briefly, perhaps, than I would have on graduate education from the perspective of industrial research.
My views on graduate education and the ways in which it might be improved have been formed during the 30 years in which I worked in industry, both as a practicing physical scientist, as a manager of all of the physical science activity in IBM, then as a manager of engineers in development, and finally, as director of research. I think the current situation, in which jobs are scarce in some parts of science and in which, as this symposium today shows, we are rethinking the whole national enterprise in science, may add some appropriateness to the views I'm about to express. But they basically are the outcome of my experience.
Now, it will be well known to this audience that many engineering schools have spent a lot of time recently reassessing their master's degree science and engineering programs. And many schools, including MIT, have made significant changes in those programs. But there has been little reassessment, so far, of the underlying assumptions, expectations, and requirements for PhD programs in science and in engineering areas that are closely related to science. And in my view, it's time for such a reassessment. And indeed, this session and some of the comments today suggest that others are of that view.
Now, I say this despite the fact that, as was pointed out, and I think very correctly pointed out by Dr. Bromley and by Mr. Vincent-- there is an enormous amount to be proud of in the achievements and the status of our graduate education. Depending on the particular field of science under discussion, somewhere between 40% and perhaps up to 90% of new PhDs will end up working in settings outside research universities.
The presumption seems to have been, up to now, that the process which is-- was designed to train research professors will do as well as can be done in preparing graduates for employment as science and engineering PhDs in non-traditional roles-- that is, teaching in four-year colleges, or doing research in industry, or working in government, for example, or in many other fields that have already been mentioned today.
Now, clearly, the traditional PhD training-- training for research professorships-- is not bad preparation for the non-traditional roles. We've heard that said over and over again, and I've seen that in my own experience. But I think it can be done better. And I think the current national situation requires that we think about how it may be done better.
Now, I grant you that many-- in many respects, the PhD programs in science and engineering are in good shape. The technical sophistication of new graduates in their specialties is usually breathtaking. New PhD graduates are still the best vehicles in the world for technology transfer.
Now, actually, that's not quite right. The best technology transfer vehicle is a moving van-- a moving van which delivers the new PhD to his or her first job, or the central research scientist to the development laboratory, or a researcher from a national laboratory to industry. The key really is the movement-- the serious movement of people.
But although the-- our graduates-- our graduate education system is clearly world class, the envy of the world, I would say there are serious problems, as well-- problems that I came to see over these many years of hiring and managing new PhDs. Now, I don't have a lot of time, so I'm going to have to be brief. And therefore, I will sound marginally more dogmatic on these subjects than I feel.
Briefly, it's my view that the training of new PhDs, in general, is too narrow intellectually, too campus centered, and too long. Furthermore-- and perhaps this is the most serious of all-- many new PhDs have much too confined a set of personal and career expectations. And we just heard that point from Dr. Bromley.
The narrow intellectual focus, the over-specialization, often has unfortunate consequences, in my experience, for the new scientist's view of him or herself. This over-specialization results, or can result, in a lack both of perspective and of self-confidence. They often believe themselves ill-prepared to venture outside their specialties, to use their powerful training in jobs in development or manufacturing or technical management or government. The burden of over-specialization is compounded by their often total lack of work experience outside the university during their PhD and by a culture which still all too often suggests that becoming like their professor represents real success.
Now, that's my point about too narrow intellectually. Now, this point about too campus-- too campus-centered-- now, this paradoxical situation, it seems to me, is due in part to the lack of serious requirements for scientific and technical breadth in the typical graduate curriculum. And it's compounded by the fact that there's little or no encouragement, and a lot of implicit discouragement, for a young person who wants to spend time during graduate school off campus, in a setting where technical knowledge is actually used to do so. There is, in short, almost no value assigned to technical breadth or real-world experience as an essential part of PhD training.
Too narrow intellectually, too campus centered. Now, too long. I firmly believe that an average of six or, in many cases, seven years-- an average of six or seven years is too long. It's a disservice to the students. It costs the country more money for the training of scientists than it need to. And I hold that view at the same time that I have this view that the young people, as part of their training, would be better served if they were able to spend some time away from campus.
And I see no contradiction between spend-- between shortening the time, on average, to obtain a PhD and spending more time away from campus as part of the training. The time it takes to get a PhD does not depend very strongly, if at all, on how much scientific knowledge the world has achieved. It depends, I think, on a linear combination of how long it takes to acquire the currently selected subset of scientific knowledge that's thought to be needed, on how long it takes to produce genuine novel research results, and how long it takes a young person to mature intellectually. I simply don't believe that that time needs to be six or seven years on average.
I think it's a serious disservice to young people to keep them cloistered that long or to allow themselves to cloister themselves that long. Now, I've made this particular comment to a lot of graduate students over the last two years. I've been spending time with graduate students. And not once has any graduate student denied that long stays in graduate school are partly due both to the student's comfort with graduate student life and to their anxiety about what it will be like in the outside world when they leave.
This combination of comfort and anxiety tends, I believe, to make PhD training take longer than necessary. This is possible, of course, because the funding agencies and the research universities allow such long stays. I believe that experience out in the world of technical work during graduate studies will significantly lower the typical graduate student anxiety level about finding a career, getting a job, and will then, thus, tend to shorten the actual time to the degree on average.
I have lots of anecdotal evidence of that. I think it would be worth studying seriously. And shortening the time to the PhD will also saddle the new graduates with less of a disadvantage with respect to their contemporaries who are years ahead in experience and seniority in the workplace.
Now, what can industry do to help? It can and should be responsive to setting up PhD cooperative arrangements with engineering research departments-- excuse me, with science and engineering departments. I believe that small firms and startups have the most to gain by such arrangements, and also the most to give students in the way of broad perspective. Many of our graduate schools are surrounded by such small companies, many of which have started from university science and engineering programs. However, except for the students of the faculty directly involved, these exciting firms are-- tend to be invisible to the majority of graduate students.
Well, I want to finish very quickly here with a few, perhaps, practical suggestions. If PhD training, although it is the envy of the world, is still too narrow intellectually, too campus-centered, and too long, what might be some helpful countermeasures? I've suggested some, and I think there are steps that the faculties, funding agencies, and employers could all take.
Faculties should give serious attention to reinvigorating a requirement for a minor as part of a PhD and make sure that the minor can be satisfied in ways that truly supplement the traditional programs. This includes the creation of new science courses at the interfaces between traditional disciplines, as well as the encouragement to take courses in other departments and faculties.
Faculties can devote serious effort to forming those contacts outside of the university that can be turned into internships, summer employments, and other away from campus experience for graduate students. And departments could use a larger proportion of their visitors' budget on scientists and engineers from outside academia who can provide real-world, non-academic perspective-- a point that Dr. Bromley just made.
Funding agencies, I think, should ask grant applications about their success in providing real-world experience for graduate students and give some honest credit in evaluating grants based on success in this area. Institute mechanisms and procedures which discourage continued funding of graduate students past, say, some average number of years. You pick the number-- I would pick five and a half years, on average.
I think the funding agencies could adiabatically alter the balance between fellowships and traineeships, on the one hand, and research assistantships, on the other, with the aim of doubling the fraction of the former over a several-year period.
Employers can do a number of things to help. First, they should make serious efforts to accommodate summer interns, co-op students, and make a effort-- make sure that the job assignments really stretch the technical horizons of students. They should be much more open to the advantage of encouraging their R&D staff to spend time as academic visitors. Part of the reason there's so little of that now is that people in industry don't think it's worth their time.
Three-- and this is, in many ways, the most important thing-- industry should make the considerable effort required to improve their hiring strategies and their competence in hiring so that they can correctly value the fantastic general capability that is part of the kit that a new PhD comes with and make a much stronger effort to foresee how bringing such people in will provide the flexibility that, as Mr. Vincent pointed out, goes with 40 years of employment.
I believe that, although we have the best graduate education in science and engineering in the world by far, the situation into which our country is moving demands that we think of ways in which to make it ever more effective. Thank you for your attention.
GREENWOOD: This has certainly been a provocative set of presentations this afternoon. And I would like to-- I know some of you in the audience are going to be sorely tempted to rush out to other obligations. But I think that would be a real shame, since the topic of education and how we maintain the infrastructure is so important to the future-- to our future success, both economically and in terms of generating knowledge.
So if the rest of the panel would come to the table, here, I'm going to forego my own personal remarks on the grounds that no professor-- certainly not one that's been in government for a year and a half-- is capable of shortening her remarks from the usual 50 minutes to 50 seconds with any reasonable sensibilities. Will all four of you-- oh, there are only three chairs? Well, we'll--
TOBIAS: I can-- no, there's [INAUDIBLE].
GREENWOOD: There are three chairs. And there's-- yeah. Sheila has come up with the innovative solution, as characteristic of women. Great.
Are there questions from the audience? Well, if there are not-- if there's not questions from the audience, let me pose one suggestion. And I have-- in all fairness to my colleagues in the NSTC process, I will unveil that this idea has begun to generate within the context of the Committee on Health, Safety, and Food, which had a follow-on forum this past year and is working on a document.
One of the topics it focused-- one of the subgroups focused on in Health, Safety, and Food was preparing the next generation of scientists and what kinds of training programs and what kinds of-- where we were going with respect to sustaining an interest in science and bringing new investigators into the field. And an idea that's sort of beginning to build and that seems to be a theme that I hear here, as well, is whether or not it would be productive for a group like this-- and I think many of you are exactly the leaders that would be necessary for this-- those in industry, those in our research universities, and those who are interested in education as faculty members and others-- to think about putting together something might-- something one might whimsically call a partnership for a new generation of scientists.
Now, that's just a whimsical title. It's a little-- perhaps a little hokey. But nonetheless, it might build on the ideas that some of the-- some folks were talking about today of how it is we might bring together the coalition that's necessary to help us broaden the definition of what constitutes a scientist for the future and also, at the same time, to talk about the important questions of both undergraduate and graduate education.
So I just put that out as an idea. I think that part of what is necessary to make this scientific, industrial, and academic community and government community a coherent force for positive change for the future are a few ideas or projects that could become a joint effort. And if we can't agree on some areas of priorities, it seems we can all agree on the critical importance of sustaining our leadership and producing science-- and scientists and engineers for the future and the incredibly critical importance to the nation of developing a workforce that has a scientific-- has scientific knowledge. And I said literacy-- and which does not-- which spreads the scientific knowledge and interest and understanding through a broad spectrum of our population and is not just confined to those who will discover knowledge for the future, but is supported by those who would appreciate and use the knowledge that is generated by those who have been leading the fields.
So on that note, I'll just stop and ask if, maybe-- if nobody-- if there aren't any questions, maybe our panelists could add their ideas or tell me this is a terrible idea or respond to this.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] I'll try a question. John, I look-- I identify with what you're suggesting for graduate education. And being someone who's in charge of graduate students, clearly have to deal with these issues, I believe. But it's very difficult to have a meaningful relationship between industry and a academic research community. Exchanges are easy. Conversations for two hours are trivial. But a meaningful relationship out of a graduate program you can develop with two people out of 30 per year.
So let me ask you, in your own career, did you have a meaningful relationship with industry before you joined IBM and had a very successful career in IBM?
ARMSTRONG: Yes. And that's one of the reasons I feel so strongly about it. And it's one of the reasons I-- how shall I put this? That I turned out better than I might have, having spent 12 years in one academic institution where the possibility of a career in industry was never-- or, let's say, in the undergraduate part of it, never mentioned.
I had the great good fortune of spending four summers at the GE research lab back in the '50s. Just marvelous. And then a summer when I was in graduate school at Lincoln Labs. So I had five-- an accumulation of five different experiences of how scientists behave, how that all worked, to help me see just what becoming a mature scientist was like. It was a fabulous opportunity.
And let me pick up on one thing you suggested. I don't make this suggestion of off-campus experience with the idea that it should be a required part of every graduate student's-- that's just not-- even if it were desirable, which I suppose it's not, it's not practical. But it ought to be viewed as a very valuable additional way to get first-class preparation as a scientist. And it ought to be available for those students who want it.
So that's the way I would think about it. It's not an across-the-board requirement that's hopeless. But it shouldn't be something which is discouraged. And there are funding agency impediments to doing that and there are university impediments to graduate students getting away for a while. And it ought to be possible to have a-- that as part of your career preparation.
GREENWOOD: A question is back there?
AUDIENCE: I'm Kevin Aylesworth, founder of the Young Scientist Network, a group of young scientists who have been having trouble switching careers from science to whatever is available now. And I was just wondering if anybody has considered the long-term implications of the, in some fields, large body of people that are having trouble moving out and doing other things and what can be done to take care of the negative long-term implications of that. I'll just leave it to the panel to--
ARMSTRONG: Well, my view-- and I'm sure everyone else has a view of that, too. My view is not that we are training too many, let's say, physicists, but that we have-- they tend to have, for obvious reasons that I tried to explain, too narrow a view of what they can do and what it's exciting to do. And university departments tend to know less than they need to know about these possibilities.
AUDIENCE: I agree.
ARMSTRONG: So there is lots of room for improvement there.
BROMLEY: Let me add just one illustrative example. I have a graduate student from some years back who is now on Wall Street not because he needed to be in any sense-- because he wanted to be. But we had lunch recently-- for which, naturally, he paid. And--
I asked him, how the hell is it that you're really remarkably successful here when I know probably better than your mother that you know nothing about economics and nothing about international relations and, in fact, nothing that I can conceive of that is of use to you here? And--
His answer was short, succinct, and probably absolutely correct. It was, I'm a hell of a lot smarter than these guys.
ARMSTRONG: But more than that--
TOBIAS: That can work both ways. A lot of people don't really want to be around--
TOBIAS: --people who think they're smarter.
AUDIENCE: --get out there and look [INAUDIBLE] give them guidance on where to look and things like that.
ARMSTRONG: Well, let me follow up on that. It's not-- I'm sure that Allan's former student is smarter than-- might be smarter than some of those other colleagues. But part-- it's part of the paradox of getting a PhD in science. You do something very specialized. In the process, you get an intellectual armamentarium of enormous general utility.
What I'm really complaining about in part of my talk is that on average, neither the students nor their professors value that general capability. And that is a great failing of the intellectual establishment, the university establishment-- a great failing.
BROMLEY: Let me just pick up once more on that. One of the things that I think is of greatest importance is the fact that during a proper PhD education, the one thing that the individual gets is a sense of confidence that they can tackle problems that no one else has ever tackled before, and do it successfully. That's something that's worth any amount when you go out trying to address, in fact, the problems of greatest importance to our society today.
But having said that, it was mentioned several times here today and passed over quickly-- I think too quickly-- that the time has come to take another look at the PhD. The first one was awarded in this country in 1861. Nothing has changed of any consequence since then.
And there's something good about that. But on the other hand, a lot of people are going into careers, particularly today, that simply do not require the experience of three, four years of original research. They're never going to do original research in the rest of their life. This, really, is a waste of their time. We in the academic community should be thinking about alternative ways to educate young people for the kind of career trajectories that are probably going to be theirs.
GREENWOOD: Well, one of the reasons I thought it might be useful to put the groups-- the undergraduate and graduates together is because we are primarily talking about education, at least for this evening's or this afternoon's purposes, in research universities. And I think when we talk about how do you get graduate students to think about the future, you ought to be talking about what you're doing at the undergraduate level, as well.
And one of the ways to reform graduate education is to think about what we are requiring of undergraduates as they come to graduate education, because the opportunity to broaden their horizons, for them to have some experience in industry, for them to think about the reason they're going to graduate school in a broader way could be shaped at least partly at the undergraduate level. It's a little bit like whatever the requirements you have for entrance determine a bit of the product you're going to get at the end as well as at the intake level.
So one of the things that I think Sheila's comments were particularly helpful to is to talk about, what is this pool of people we are recruiting in? Some of the people we are not recruiting in right now may be better able to do some of these other tasks than some of the traditional students that we've brought in. I don't know that that's true, but it seems a reasonable question for educators and those who are training the 21st century people to think about.
TOBIAS: What I-- to say it sharply-- and thank you for turning back to me. But the undergraduate education in science limits the number and kind of people who are willing to study science. And that takes us back to the issue of scientific knowledge. If we expect a larger number of well-educated people to experience, to learn, to have more scientific knowledge, we've got to convey the value of that to people not going onto graduate school in the field. And I agree entirely that it's the valuing and the way that faculty communicate to their very first year students, whom they are looking forward to seeing in the second year, that feeds this narrow route into graduate school. They are linked.
GREENWOOD: We have two-- three more questions. And then, Ernie, do you want to open it up in a general way?
GREENWOOD: OK. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE: I have a question for Sheila, actually. You had a chart which showed the 10 occupations that had something to do with science. And I was astonished in your assumption that you seemed to convey to me, anyway, that the discovery of knowledge, which was high up, number one, was the only one those for which a PhD seemed to be appropriate, whereas it seemed to me that you go three quarters of the way down the list, and your first term people could make very substantial and meaningful contributions to all of those things having to do with science, and would, in fact, use their talents quite effectively.
AUDIENCE: It wasn't?
TOBIAS: It was not-- I think I rushed too much through that. It wasn't that you wouldn't need that level of knowledge to contribute. It was the valuing issue that John has now articulated for us, that these youngsters going through the PhD program are given to understand that they are being trained to discover new knowledge, and if they find themselves doing something else, it will be something lesser. That's the meaning of that-- there's a lot more to do in science than merely discovering new knowledge. That's the point. I'm sorry I made it unclear.
GREENWOOD: Peter? Is it Peter? I've got the lights in my eyes here.
AUDIENCE: I guess I'm a little concerned, again, by this paradox. On the one hand, we claim we have this high-performing system. On the other hand, we claim it's missing the mark by a lot. And I think there's a consensus on both issues. That suggests to me that we might try to look at what the difference is between the form of our system and its actual content.
We've talked before about the absence of measures. Are we really producing a good product, in fact, or is it a blessing or a certificate that is accepted and is called-- is a sort of self consistency valued as opposed to what it actually is capable of doing in reality?
ARMSTRONG: Could I just picked up on that? One of the things that I've been finding as I talk to people in universities about these issues-- and let's take the issue of real life experience as part of your training. Time and time again, it turns out that faculties will say, well, we could do something like that, but of course, it won't be a PhD. It will be a doctor of this, or it will be a whatever of that. And that raises this issue of getting your ticket stamped for academia. I think it has long outlived its utility in that regard.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] commented on it earlier. I'm struck by the fact that I have-- industry-- half of the industry say they value these broadly technically trained people, but they hire the specialists over and over again--
ARMSTRONG: Right. Of course.
AUDIENCE: --with a short-term outlook.
ARMSTRONG: That's right. That's why my biggest assignment for industry is to try to pay some attention to that. And I don't know any practical way to deal with that in the abstract. I don't know how to solve that problem in principle. I know how to solve it in practice. If we had more of this interaction that we've-- that Allan mentioned and that I've been talking about, it would be solved in practice, and we wouldn't have to solve it in principle.
But you're absolutely right. I have-- that was a big problem in managing the hiring of PhDs, especially in development, but even in research-- was that people would go for the-- unerringly for the specialist, whose-- the lifetime of whose specialty was-- half life was three years.
It's laziness on the part of the employers, and also a lack of intellectual confidence in being able to judge on the part of employers. It's a lot more work to hire somebody who isn't a specialist than who-- but who's the smartest damn guy that came along, or girl that came along. That's a lot more work. And it's more risk.
GREENWOOD: John, do you-- earlier in the day, we were talking about the fact that we have to change the way we talk about the research enterprise, that some of the models that implied-- even though I think many of us who thought about them never saw them as linear-- but they implied to people who don't understand the nuances a linear model. Is there-- do I understand what you're saying to also potentially lead to a reintegration of the types of education that our institutions of higher learning may be giving, as well?
I mean, one of the things that we may be missing as a futuristic opportunity or that universities may have to think about is whether their educational role is really over when they chuck them through the linear process and we throw out a PhD. Maybe there ought to be some ways to select those specialized PhDs that do go out. They really ought to get some business training, or they ought to get some legal training. And the institutions from whence they come ought to have-- or maybe not the specific ones, but those kinds of institutions ought to have a more open and better relationship for retraining, recycling, re-educating.
We're focusing a lot on that in the job training programs at K through 12-- jobs ready, work to-- school to work programs and retraining and retooling for a lower level of education. But the concept, it seems to me, is one-- if we're going to get into a debate about what constitutes higher education and what constitutes a high-level degree, maybe we ought to be thinking about-- if we want leaders, if we want there to be more than five PhDs as corporate officers at Ford and other places-- what is the other kind of training those folks will have to have? And when in their life will they have to have it in order to have a successful multiple opportunity career?
Having come from an institution where, I must tell you personally, I thought several times about going back to law school or going to business school or going to medical school, you wonder if there's not some way we shouldn't be doing that as institutions of higher education, as well. So just as a thought, maybe the model of thinking about how we train people to be the leaders of the future's got to be changed, too.
ARMSTRONG: That's part of what I had in mind by suggesting a serious minor or other attempts to get a broader--
GREENWOOD: Maybe it shouldn't always be done in graduate school. Maybe it ought to wait till somebody figures out that they need something else.
ARMSTRONG: Exactly. You have a-- maybe somebody wants to add to that.
AUDIENCE: I was going to say that I don't know of a company today that doesn't consider continuing education to be a critical part of its employee-- the ability of its employees to grow. And we're required-- every person on our staff is required to show that they've gone on and taken some new course-- something every year.
And so we're-- that is a thing that is put a lot of emphasis on. A lot of our research staff these days go to business school and get some business training so they have some feeling about it. So I'm a little bit worried that-- people can broaden themselves after graduate school, too.
The important things about graduate school is learning to solve a problem and what it means to solve a problem. That's what graduate school was about, at one stage-- at least, theses were about, was to understand when you've done something and when you haven't done it. Being-- teaching people to think clearly and things like that-- those are the things that I consider to be the most important. The broadening aspect of things, in some ways, is something we can take care of as a function of time.
ARMSTRONG: Well, yes and no, Bill. That is, I certainly agree that the overwhelmingly important job is to learn how to learn in that deep way. No question about it. And what I'm asserting is, that ability to learn how to learn and health-- have self-confidence and perspective on how you can apply that is helped by some broadening.
I found an awful lot of scientists-- this was a terrible blow to me when I finally discovered-- I found an awful lot of scientists weren't interested in nature. Or they really had no notion that they ought to be able to move broadly in the world of science and other affairs. So as far as getting an MBA or something, I agree-- if you want to do that, do it later. But studying only quantum field theory can be injurious to your psychological health, it seems to me.
GREENWOOD: I think on that note--
ARMSTRONG: Yes, [INAUDIBLE].
GREENWOOD: Bob is telling me-- I mean, I like the whole idea of ending on the note that studying too much quantum field theory can be bad for your emotional health. Ernie will truly appreciate this. But I'll turn the podium back over to Bob, who I think has a few words for us before we adjourn. Thank you again to the speakers and to the audience.
MODERATOR: Poor old Bob Jaffe, who's chair of our faculty, who's spent his life on quantum field theory, just had a nervous breakdown, I think.
AUDIENCE: That's OK to take, because your field is dead, apparently.
MODERATOR: Oh, yeah, and my field got declared dead, anyway.
At least Bob's going to ultimately figure out how much I weigh and why.
Manifestly, because of the hour, it won't surprise you that we're going to pass on the open discussion, much of which we just had. We therefore have to pass on my introduction of Ernie Moniz. But let me just say briefly that Ernie, who's head of physics, played a central role-- in fact, was the key person in putting together today's program. So we're really grateful for that.
He also, as you heard earlier from Jack Gibbons, played a crucial role as a consultant to OSTP and constructing the science and the national interest document. So we really owe a great debt to him. Jack also asked how he managed to do this and run the physics department. Actually, he didn't run the physics department. That was the answer.
AUDIENCE: It's in anarchy. Nobody runs it.
MODERATOR: Actually, Elizabeth Cooper, his financial assistant-- or administrative assistant runs the physics department. I also, before introducing Chuck, want to thank a lot of the people involved in the organization of this event today, most especially Sarah Caruthers, my assistant dean for development, who played a central role, and the staff of the Industrial Liaison Program, a number of whom-- too many to name, actually, but who were really crucial in making all of this work as well as it did.
So, finally, I want to turn over to the hero of the day, Chuck Vest, who actually was down at Washing-- was on a plane at 6 o'clock in the morning going to Washington, which is a typical day for Chuck. Came back and is, I know, going to give us a brilliant summary of the day's events.
Chuck is the 15th President of MIT. One of the most high profile presidents we've ever had, and has played a really important role in leadership in Washington, as we heard earlier in the day, and also an equally important role in leadership here at MIT. And we're very proud of him.
His only defect is that he's not a product of MIT. He actually came from Michigan. But Michigan seems to have a good track record in producing great university presidents, so we accept him on that basis. Chuck.
VEST: Flattery will get you everywhere, Bob. As we end the day, I'm left with a mystery. And it's this-- why is it that out of this entire assembly, the only person who does what I tell him is John Armstrong, yet Anita Jones has an admiral to change her slides?
I had originally intend-- I had originally intended to introduce today's session, and I had put together a few succinct headlines that I thought painted a picture of the state of science policy and the things we should be debating. But now, I'm going to give them as a summary of the day, completely uninformed or encumbered by anything that occurred. Nonetheless, I think they will work. And fortunately for you, they will, in fact, be brief.
A few headlines, first, on the political situation, on the universities, and, finally, on the national R&D system. Politically, Clinton administration ran on a platform that gave strong emphasis to technology, to science, to drivers of our economy, and keen and very important investments for the future. As you know, they released two major policy statements, "Technology for America's Economic Growth" and "Science in the National Interest." "Science in the National Interest," of course, called for a shared commitment among government, industry, and universities. It's a well-received policy document that can form the basis of a national commitment to science as being essential for the development of a vibrant future.
Yesterday, the president released a budget for university research, science, technology, and civilian technology development that is strong relative to the rest of the domestic discretionary budget. It includes increases of 7% in government-wide academic research, 3 and 1/2% in civilian basic research, and 8% in government-wide applied research. We may not care for the exact titles. We may wish there were more. But it is certainly strong in comparison to what's happening in much of the rest of the budget, even at this stage.
The new congressional leadership, of course, indicates that dramatic cuts are going to need to be made across domestic discretionary accounts, which include all of the agencies that fund research with the exception of DOD. The pressure to reduce all domestic discretionary spending, including the future of science, technology, and education, are certainly expected to continue for the next several years.
The new congressional leadership states that federal-- that the federal government should support basic research in universities. They appear to be energizing a bipartisan commitment to berit-- to merit-based grant and contract awards and strongly opposing academic earmarking.
There's a lot of sentiment running abroad today that investments in such programs as the ATP, TRP, SEMATECH are not appropriate uses of federal support. In my view, there's a particular danger that we all have to worry about, and that is, an opposition to such programs which are increasingly, as we've heard today, being called applied research may inadvertently generate budget cuts to many extremely important activities in engineering and applied research completely unintentionally.
There is also some sentiment abroad that DOD should stop funding basic research, which I think would be a very, very disastrous occurrence for the nation. The cancellation of the superconducting supercollider still reverberates as a symbol of our national inability to keep large-scale, multi-year commitments.
Universities-- the halos of our research universities were indeed tarnished by events such as the Dingell hearings and the uses of indirect cost. They have not recovered in the eyes of many in Congress and in the press, despite sustained hard work by many to improve the system, including the new proposals just published by the Clinton administration in the Federal Register. Universities have found themselves continually on the defensive. So they've hosted innumerable auditors, investigators on their campuses and have fought for four years to stop various attempts for federal shifting of research cost to other revenue sources-- tuition, income, gifts, endowment, and state support.
Despite this, the Clinton administration and the Bush administration before it maintained extremely open and meaningful dialogue within the university community on policy issues. And we're very grateful. And I'd like to take this opportunity to thank both Jack Gibbons and Allan Bromley personally for that fact.
America's universities, it has been said today, remain a precious national asset, combining great and varied intellectual capacity, the responsibility for the education of our next generation. They must, however, recognize the seismic changes in their environment. We must strive to get their costs under control and to remain affordable. The role in the future of America's science strategy must be clarified, and their federal support, whatever it's going to be, needs to be stabilized.
And finally, the national R&D system. In order to become internationally competitive in this complicated environment, most large companies have transformed their research and development organizations into groups that focus on reduction of product cycle times, improvement of quality, and other critically important but nonetheless near-term goals. Consequently-- and there may be arguments about this-- much of our important mid to long-term research that is a prime source of innovation and future products has been eliminated.
In short, the system that couples much fundamental research to ultimate commercial application, I think, is in danger of rapid disintegration. Industry is not doing the job. Universities or national laboratories are not doing them, either, nor have they been chartered or funded to do so. So it seems to me that we are faced in a situation where elements of our national innovation system, especially companies, are making locally optimal decisions. But as their developments become increasingly near-term and protected as important intellectual property, the shared scientific and technological knowledge, and the advances that make the entire system progress, are in danger.
Science generally has enjoyed strong and non-partisan support for half a century. As the nation grapples with the overriding budget issues and dramatically new international environment in which we operate, we must strive to retain this support and its non-partisan nature. As leaders of government, industry, and academia, we must build a strong, mutually supportive system for scientific advancement and technological innovation that serves the national interest in both the near and long term.
That, I believe, was the context in which we decided to organize today's symposium. I must say, the conversation has been a bit gentler than I predicted or than, perhaps, might have been desirable. Nonetheless, I think a lot of wisdom and insight has been displayed. And I think all of us are returning to our respective venues with a lot of new things to think about, and more importantly still, to join forces across our cultures to work on.
So I want simply to thank all of you for your attendance. And I particularly, Jack, want to thank you for bringing so many members of the Clinton administration, who we know are exceedingly busy at this time, to come here to Cambridge on this cold day to tell us what's happening, what your perspectives are, to engage and interchange with us. I want to state on behalf of all of the organizers here that it was extremely rewarding to get so many ready and immediate yeses to the people that we called from industry and from other universities to join together in today's symposium.
It's been a long day. I thank all of you for your participation. And I truly hope that this will be not an end in itself, but really will be a beginning toward increasing, as someone has said, the national interest in science so that science in the national interest can progress. Thank you very much.