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Republican sweep may affect government support for universities
STANFORD -- The Republican takeover of Congress may lead to cutbacks in federal support for research and student financial aid, President Gerhard Casper said Wednesday, Nov. 9.
Answering questions during his quarterly interview with the student media on campus radio station KZSU, Casper predicted that Washington will become "even more tightfisted in its spending" in the wake of the Nov. 8 election.
"While we were not optimistic about government budgets for the next few years," the current anti-government mood creates “even more reason to be pessimistic," Casper said.
Universities are not high on congressional priority lists, he said, noting that $200 million was cut this year from the Defense Department's $1.8 billion research budget. That cut originally was proposed to be $900 million. Some in Congress believe that more should be spent on military readiness rather than on university research, he said.
Asked what would augment Stanford's reputation, tarnished by the indirect cost controversy, Casper replied that Stanford must "do the best possible job of any American university in education and research" and hope that the public eventually will understand the university's significant national contributions.
Many alumni were upset about reports in the press on the indirect cost situation that turned out to be wrong, he said. "You can understand why they were confused, since the press was never very balanced about these matters."
On the other hand, some alumni have been upset with the university for a long time, he said, explaining that he still gets mail about the elimination 22 years ago of the Indian mascot.
The university must work harder to improve communication with alumni, and "we are presently rethinking those matters from scratch," he said.
One of the communication challenges is the generation gap in the alumni body, he said. Many older alumni, for example, are upset about the band, but younger alumni tend to either actively support the band or shrug their shoulders, he said.
Another change relates to diversity. Among major private universities, Stanford probably is the most integrated, he said. "Stanford is truly multicultural in that sense."
Many alumni live in fairly homogenous communities, as did most students before they came to campus, he said. These days, Stanford students are accustomed to "diversity that our alumni have never seen."
He said it is difficult to make alumni understand the changes that are taking place and how they affect Stanford. Casper said he needs student support to make sure that alumni do not become alienated.
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