AGB Releases Informational Brief on Academic Research in Higher Education

By AGB December 18, 2019 February 27th, 2020 Press Releases

Urges Board Members to Advocate for Renewed Federal Support

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) released a new informational brief outlining how board members can be informed and responsible stewards of their institution’s research enterprise within the boardroom and vocal advocates for increased federal support beyond it.

The Research Mission in Higher Education, written by former Emory University President James W. Wagner, offers board members and other institutional leaders vital information on the history, purpose, and potential of “academic science,” defined as research conducted in a college or university setting.

The paper reviews the long history of university research, highlighting the relative youth—75 years—of the American partnership between the federal government and academia to advance discovery and knowledge to benefit the nation and the world. This partnership has since produced significant benefits to society and the economy in such areas as defense, food security, transportation, communications, education, and health care. Despite these successes, the federal government has reduced its support for research in higher education, and countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Germany commit larger percentages of their gross domestic product toward this kind of research.

Regarding the erosion of government support for academic research, AGB President and Chief Executive Officer Henry Stoever notes, “It is imperative that trustees understand the importance of research to the mission of their institutions and that they articulate its value to those in government who make decisions about how and to what extent research is funded. This informational brief will aid trustees in that vital advocacy.”

The Research Mission in Higher Education is the latest resource created as part of AGB’s Guardians Initiative™, an effort to involve college and university trustees in countering growing skepticism about the value of higher education. The campaign seeks to create a new force of influential, informed citizens who can speak with independent credibility about the genuine benefits of higher education to individuals and to American society. The brief was produced with support from the Carnegie Corporation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Previous informational briefs have focused on the business model of higher education, the return on investment of a college education, the democratic purposes of higher education, and other topics.


About AGB
Since 1921 the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) has had one mission: to strengthen and protect this country’s unique form of institutional governance through its research, services, and advocacy. Serving more than 1,300 member boards, nearly 2,000 institutions, and over 35,000 board members, AGB is the only national organization providing university and college presidents, board chairs, trustees, and board professionals of both public and private institutions and institutionally related foundations with resources that enhance their effectiveness.