For two centuries, public research universities such as Indiana University have helped shape the fortunes of the United States. They are economic and intellectual growth engines that give back far beyond what they receive in taxpayer support and knit together the residents of a state in a way that is uniquely American.
In fact, America's economic dominance has been driven in large part by the countless scientific and commercial breakthroughs that have sprung from our research universities. The extraordinary return on investment provided by our public universities is one of the reasons that U.S. higher education is widely considered to be the best in the world and why other countries are aggressively seeking to replicate the American research university model.
Yet in these difficult economic times, when hard choices must be made by governments and individuals alike, it is undeniably fair for policymakers and concerned citizens to question whether that impact is worth the level of taxpayer support public universities receive and the growing fees they must charge students. At the same time, the headlines and sound bites that dominate the discussion lack balance.
Here in Indiana, the latest proof of the value of public universities was offered late last month when IU and Indiana University Health, shared the strikingly positive results of a just-completed independent economic impact study.