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Possible budget slash could be detrimental to University research

Luke Cooper, Staff Writer

President Donald Trump’s “budget blueprint” proposes to slash funds for a variety of federal agencies, possibly including the National Science Foundation (NSF), which would be detrimental to the University’s research.

The National Science Foundation a federal agency serving to “advance the progress of science,” is one of the University’s largest sources for research funding. In the 2015 fiscal year, the University reported that the foundation provided $132 million of funding for school research, which is more than any other federal agency.

“The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is among the nation’s research powerhouses, so robust federal funding is vital to our research mission,” said University spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

2016 marked the seventh consecutive year that the University received the largest endowment sum from the foundation out of any U.S. academic institution, according to data found on the NSF website.

The financial plans for the NSF in the Trump administration’s 62-page blueprint is unclear. The document makes no reference to the agency, although the NSF could be associated with a vague single line which says “other agencies.”

The unknown agencies that constitute this clause are subject to a 10 percent cut in their previous funding for 2017.

With the amount of funding received by the University, a 10 percent slash to the agency’s $7.5 billion portfolio could be detrimental to the school’s research across many scientific fields.

Money received from the agency is distributed amongst many of the school’s fields of research, ranging from “hard” to “soft” sciences.

Around 55 percent of NSF expenditures in 2015 went to environmental, math and computer sciences research, with engineering research receiving around 19 percent. The remaining funds went primarily to physical, life, social and behavioral science research.

On March 10, University Chancellor Robert Jones and the Executive Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Professor Melanie Loots, met with NSF Director France Cordova in Washington, D.C.

It was not specified as to what was addressed in the meeting, but at an Academic Senate meeting on Monday, Jones said that Cordova thanked the University and its researchers for the work they perform.

The University officials’ meeting with the NSF director was part of a larger aim — including the participation of additional school officials — to address the University’s attitude and concerns to members of Congress.

“The NSF funds programs that support everything from diversity and entrepreneurship to tools for researchers,” Loots said in an email. “NSF funding is vital to the University . . . We are confident that the U.S. Congress will continue its strong support for NSF.”

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