“Beginning with President Lincoln’s enactment of the Morrill Act in 1862, the United States and its states have sought to build, foster, and support a network of public universities designed to offer access to a higher education for all who want it, not just the privileged. This commitment has served not just the many students who attend these institutions, but also society and our nation at large, which enjoy the vast array of economic, cultural, and social benefits born out of research, educational, and other activities at as these institutions.
“But in just the last decade, state support for public research universities has sharply eroded by more than one-third. This has left the 3.8 million students who attend public research universities each year and their families to shoulder much of that cost. And it threatens to undermine more than 150 years of progress that effectively made our public research universities into national treasures that are the envy of the world.
“Through the words of some of the most prominent leaders in business, government, and academia, the final report from The Lincoln Project serves as a call for swift action to save and strengthen these institutions. Above all else, the report makes clear that states must reinvest in their public universities and avoid betraying the promise of an affordable, accessible higher education for all who seek it. The authors make clear that the long-term success of our nation’s economy, prosperity, and security is rooted in the investments made in our public research universities.
“Beyond serving as the great economic equalizer for so many, public research universities have been behind countless discoveries -- from life-saving vaccines and medicines to the Internet and smartphones. These institutions serve as regional anchors in their states, working in partnership with businesses and communities to solve regional and local problems.
“As our nation works toward meetings its goal of having 60 percent adult working age population possess a post-secondary degree, it is public research universities that will play a central role. As the Lincoln Report makes clear, to make this a reality these institutions will need the full backing of the states and federal government.”