University President Drew G. Faust extended a hand to business partners Wednesday to stress the importance of American innovation at Bloomberg Business Roundtable on day two of her Washington, D.C. trip.
The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, co-hosted the meeting with Harvard to discuss the most pressing issues facing colleges and possible opportunities for collaboration between the private sector and institutions of higher education.
The discussion also included university presidents from MIT, University of Iowa, Stanford, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and University of California Davis.
“There was a lively, interesting discussion today between CEOs and university presidents about collaboration, partnership and our shared agenda in support of innovation,” Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Christine M. Heenan said. “There is a mutual dependency between business and higher education as the early stage of research and development [businesses] need is done at universities.”
Faust traveled down to Washington this week to advocate for student aid and science research funding in an effort to ensure that neither expenditure ends up on the cutting block as the Congressional debt reduction “supercommittee” looks to shave $1.5 trillion from the national debt.
Heenan said that in this economic climate it has become increasingly important for Harvard to reach out and form coalitions with allies in politics, business, and higher education.
Faust met with several members of the debt supercommittee on Tuesday, including Democratic Congressmen Xavier Becerra of California, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. She also met with Democratic Senator Max S. Baucus of Montana, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
“It is a very challenging time in Washington, and it has emerged that it is important to have a shared view, a bi-partisan view, when it comes to innovation,” Heenan said.
House Republican Leader Eric Cantor joined the Business Roundtable for the tail end of the meeting, at which point they discussed the need for a highly skilled workforce to bolster the American economy.
“We need to hear from those individuals who are dedicated to the promotion of innovation in America,” Cantor said in a statement. “That’s how America leads.”
Cantor said that the federal government has a responsibility “to commit the necessary resources and to make priority funding for public institutions who go about basic research so we can bring those ideas to market.”
Prior to the meeting, members of the Business Roundtable had breakfast with John P. Holdren, the science advisor to Obama, as well as representatives of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a non-partisan advisory board that serves to strengthen the economy and create jobs.
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