Michael Drake, newly installed as the president of the University of California, talks about the challenges in the age of Covid of running an institution of 10 campuses and some half-million students and staff.
Former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, now an MIT professor, Simon Johnson urges increased investment in basic research as a way “to convert knowledge into jobs into a way to share prosperity.” And he argues that this increased investment should be focused on the middle of the country, “in places where it makes sense to build a lab and build a cluster of expertise.”
Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Rebecca Blank argues that public universities like hers not only produce over two-thirds of the PhDs that come out of the top schools, but crucially include students from more diverse backgrounds. In her state, “great kids growing up on dairy farms and the inner city,” so creating scientists aware of real-world problems needing solutions.
Bob Conn, the president of the Kavli Foundation, argues that philanthropies play a vital role in funding scientific research because they can take more chances. Unlike the federal government, they’re better able to fund research that may very well fail – but if it succeeds, can change the world for the better.
President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County for almost 30 years, Freeman Hrabowski has transformed a sleepy, mainly white, commuter school into a launching pad for thousands of African American scientists and engineers. “And that helps obviously the people we call disadvantaged. But also the ones in power who don't have access to the so-called disadvantaged, don't have access to their genius.”
When she was head of the US Geological Survey, Marcia McNutt led the federal response to the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now the first female director of the National Academy of Sciences, she draws on that experience to ensure the Academy provides the government with what she calls “actionable science,” when, in a crisis, the stakes are high and time is short.