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Federal Budget Proposal

March 19, 2017

To:      The Caltech Community

From:  Thomas F. Rosenbaum
           Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and Professor of Physics

Re:      Federal Budget Proposal


The President's budget savages science, the arts, and the humanities. This is only the opening salvo in a complicated negotiation with Congress, and many of the most draconian cuts are unlikely to survive. However, it does underscore the need for us as an academic community to make a better case for the centrality of inquiry, research, and innovation to the nation's well being. We must generally and specifically defend analyses substantiated by data and arguments based on evidence.

This is the case I have been making in frequent visits to Washington, DC, and in concert with other leading research universities. There is bipartisan support for science writ large and, especially, for basic research. The human desire to explore, to create, and to improve the human condition are powerful, resonant themes on both sides of the Congressional aisle.

Nonetheless, in difficult budget times and in an amplified partisan environment, we cannot assume that the precepts of science and technology will prevail. There is no surer way to sink our cause than to appear as just another lobbying group out to push its own narrow interest, or as an exclusive elite convinced that it deserves support because of its obvious merit. Rather, we, as Caltech and as individuals, must make the case for the future: that discovery and invention are essential aspects of a nation's ability to compete, that understanding how the earth is changing is essential for our children and grandchildren's well being, that science and the arts advance society and enrich the human spirit. As members of the Caltech community, we have a special vantage point and responsibility to protect the values necessary to secure our nation's future.