Today, I’m in Boston with UF alumni celebrating the induction of five UF faculty members as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, and this week’s meeting has 10,000 attendees. UF now has 51 AAAS fellows, an indicator of our excellence in science and engineering.
As I attend this gathering and prepare for next week’s National Science Board meeting in Washington, D.C., I am struck by our nation’s good fortune in having great research universities, both public and private. Within the U.S., there are more than 4,600 colleges and universities; however, only 300 are research (doctoral) universities, categorized by the Carnegie Classification into moderate, higher and highest research.
UF is in the highest research category.
Our nation’s greatest research universities are expensive. They require annual revenues in the multiple billions of dollars to fund the world’s very best scholars, researchers, educators, graduate assistants, staff, libraries, laboratories, infrastructure and programs. This money comes from a variety of sources, including federal and state governments, annual philanthropy, endowment and tuition.
However, without the investment in these great research universities, our society, economy and nation would be impoverished. There would be no hope of solving humanity’s greatest challenges, including providing all the world’s people with health, food, water, shelter, energy, education and a sustainable environment. Without our nation’s great research universities, our culture, economy and lives would dim.
Earlier this week, I spoke to the Economic Club of Florida about the economic impact of research universities. I said that as of Monday, Apple’s market value was $700 billion. The No. 2 company was Google parent Alphabet Inc. The iPhone accounts for two-thirds of Apple’s sales and three-quarters of its operating profit. Since the iPhone’s first release 10 years ago, it has had nearly $1 trillion in sales.
Without research universities, the iPhone and all other smartphones would not exist. A smartphone’s hardware consists of six essential components, all invented by university researchers: touchscreen, central processing unit, multi-core processors, random access memory, GPS and battery. For example, John Atanasoff, an electrical engineering graduate from UF, is one of the university researchers credited with inventing the CPU.
At UF, we are one of the nation’s leading universities in making discoveries and inventions that help to propel the economy. Last year, private companies that licensed UF technologies pumped nearly $2.3 billion into the state’s economy, according to our most recent economic impact study.
UF is indeed one of the nation’s great research universities. However, our aspirations are higher. Our plan is to be not just one of the greatest, but the very best.
UF has a plan to reach the top in providing an education for students, in research and scholarship that changes the world, and in engaging with the public across the state and around the globe. We have established a set of metrics and a timeline for success. Floridians deserve a university that is truly the