In a letter Wednesday organized by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, 165 college presidents called on President Barack Obama and Congress to end across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
They warned that the cuts will lead to a "less prepared, less highly skilled U.S. workforce, fewer U.S.-based scientific and technological breakthroughs, fewer U.S.-based patents, and fewer U.S. start-ups, products, and jobs."
The higher education leaders also pointed to past innovations that came through federally-funded scientific research -- including the Internet, GPS, lasers and vaccines -- to call for "sustained strategic federal investments in research and student financial aid."
The letter comes as congressional Democrats and the White House are contemplating a short-term fix to sequestration. House Republicans, on the other hand, have formulated bills to make the non-defense cuts even deeper.
Sequestration's cuts to scientific research are real. The National Institutes of Health will cut $1.7 billion and fund 700 fewer grants this fiscal year. At a recent research conference, Steven Warren, vice chancellor for research at the University of Kansas, called the cuts "a slowly growing cancer."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article mistakenly attributed the letter to 165 university professors, when in fact it was signed by the same number of university and college presidents.