Derek Douglas and Eric D. Isaacs: Federal Funding Update

July 8, 2017

To: Faculty, Academic Appointees and Staff
From: Derek Douglas, Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs, and Eric D. Isaacs, Executive Vice President for Research, Innovation and National Laboratories
Subject: Federal Funding Update
Date: June 8, 2017

On May 23, the Trump Administration released its detailed budget proposal for FY18. Though Congress has the ultimate authority for federal funding decisions, the administration’s proposal points to potential impending challenges for research funding.  The proposal includes cuts to a number of areas relevant to the University’s academic programs and the science programs of our affiliated laboratories, including NIH (21% proposed cut from FY17), NSF (11% proposed cut), NEA and NEH (both proposed for elimination), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (17% proposed cut), and Medicaid funding under the ACA (over $800 billion proposed cut over 10 years).  This detailed budget was a follow-up to the “skinny” budget released in March, which included only a basic overview of proposed spending for major agencies.

Federal funding for research and education forms a vital foundation for our nation’s future leadership in scientific discovery, scholarship in the arts and humanities, and technological innovation, as well as attracting talented individuals from around the world to our universities. The recent passage of a budget written by Congress to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017 was far better for scientific research and academic programs than the Administration’s budget because it not only maintained current funding for a number of areas relevant to the University’s academic programs and the science programs of our affiliated laboratories, but in some important areas even included significant increases.  We are maintaining vigilance and doing all we can to protect the many areas that are critical to the nation’s research infrastructure, including the work we do at the University, because next year’s budget battles are likely to be even more difficult.

To that end, we are engaging in these efforts in many ways:

  • Collaborating with our peers at the American Association of Universities from the level of University presidents to Senior Research Officers to federal relations staff to make the strongest case possible to Congress and the Administration for the importance of robust funding for the National Science Foundation.
  • Partnering with patient advocacy groups, health care providers, and various consortia of medical researchers to advocate for continued funding for NIH.
  • Working with local arts and humanities organizations to make the case for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Partnering with other health care providers in Illinois and similarly situated states and some members of our Illinois Congressional delegation to fight against Medicaid cuts.
  • Working closely with our affiliated Labs and mobilizing our peers at Illinois and other universities and some of the private companies that use our facilities to fight for robust funding for the Office of Science at the Department of Energy, which funds our affiliated National Labs.

These strategies are being coordinated by the University’s Office of Federal Relations (OFR), based in Washington, D.C.  Some of you have been involved in these efforts either on your own, through your professional societies, or working directly with OFR.  If you have any questions about federal funding for programs of importance to you, or if you would like further information about or would like to get more involved in advocating for these programs, we would encourage you to contact the office at

We will continue to advocate for federal funding in areas critical to the University’s work, and will keep you apprised of material developments.

UChicagoSocial: Campus and Student Life