Anderson, Christopher. "Bromley's Last Stand," Science 259 (1 January 1993), pp. 20-21.

 

Anderson, Christopher. "Bromley's Last Stand," Science 259 (1 January 1993), pp. 20-21.

D. Allen Bromley is on his way out at presidential advisor. President-elect Clinton will choose
another scientist for the job. But as he leaves office, Bromley has a few suggestions for
universities: he warns that the big expansion of universities which has gone on since 1945 is
over. Painful reforms are necessary. This is a message which cannot be ignored as their are
recognized deep-seated problems in academia; it is the result of six meetings and testimony from
nearly 200 administrators and academicians from around the country.

Some of the warnings are simple: It is "ill-advised" for universities to seek to excel in all areas of
scholarship. And, universities should encourage teaching even if it means less emphasis on
research. Further, universities should be encouraged to do the research they do best.

Not everything in the report is negative: thus, there is criticism of Congress for pork-barrel
research and for failing to support indirect costs and for competing with universities in national
laboratories.

There is also the clear suggestion that neither government nor universities should set up new
systems for research. (This can be seen as a defensive move on the part of the favored
universities of the current system.) Indeed, Robert Rosenzweig of the AAU is quoted as saying
"All the easy things have already been done - and now we are asking people which of their
children they want to sacrifice." (p. 21)

Bromley hopes the Clinton administration will pay attention to this report and act on its
recommendations.