In the two previous messages this semester, I've talked about how events in Topeka shape our ability to carry out the university's mission. This time I'd like to focus on how actions in Washington also affect KU.
More than two-thirds of our external research funding comes from the federal government, and federal financial aid programs benefit a great many of our students. Additionally, in the last couple of years, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided new funding for research and construction.
KU and KUMC researchers have successfully won 150 of the highly competitive ARRA grants, bringing $70.5 million to Kansas. The construction of the School of Engineering's Measurement, Materials & Sustainable Environment Center and several other KU projects were also made possible by stimulus-related grants.
This money was available because two years ago, Congress and the White House were focused on restoring financial stability and creating jobs. This year, however, Washington is focused on reducing the nation's deficit, and that is likely to have an effect on KU.
There are multiple proposals to cut government spending in the current year, as well as for fiscal year 2012. While the size and nature of the cuts vary depending on who is proposing them, there is certainly the potential for real cuts that will impact students, faculty and staff, as well as KU's ability to serve Kansans.
Cuts to Pell Grants would make it more difficult for many of our students to attend KU. Cuts to area studies programs and the arts and humanities would limit our ability to give students the experiences they need to succeed in the modern workplace and in life. And cuts in research funding for areas ranging from energy to health would mean fewer discoveries that grow the economy.
Just as we do with state policymakers, we stay in close contact with leaders in Washington. Keith Yehle, KU's director of federal relations, leads these efforts, and I encourage you to contact him if you have questions about how best to work with federal officials.
We are communicating with Kansas' congressional delegation about the serious repercussions of cutting student aid, research funding and other areas critical to a prospering nation. Cutting funding for the very efforts that will help restore prosperity would threaten the fragile recovery.
Investing in higher education is an investment in the future of our students, state and nation. We will continue to make the case in Topeka and Washington that the future prosperity of Kansas and the United States is tied to having skilled college graduates, as well as scholarly discoveries that create jobs and enhance the quality of life we all enjoy.
Thank you for your work in helping us make the case for KU, here and around the world.