Research universities use Web to tell Recovery story

WASHINGTON: A group of public and private research universities launched a campaign that aims to inform policymakers, the Obama Administration, and the public about the ways that they are using Recovery Act funding.

WASHINGTON: A group of public and private research universities launched a campaign that aims to inform policymakers, the Obama Administration, and the public about the ways that they are using Recovery Act funding.

The Science Coalition, the Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities kicked off the “ScienceWorksForUs” campaign November 17 in Washington.

At the center of the communications effort is a Web site that shows which states and universities received grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, said Bill Andresen, VP of federal affairs for the University of Pennsylvania and president of The Science Coalition.

“We have a responsibility to keep Congress, the Administration, and the public informed about how we're using the money,” said Andresen, noting that the research and science funding is the largest investment made by the federal government since Sputnik.

Through the Recovery Act, $21.5 billion was awarded for scientific research, capital equipment, and science-related construction projects.

Quinn Gillespie & Associates, AOR for The Science Coalition, is providing support and will gather stories about job creation, researchers, and innovations to regularly update the Web site.

“The purpose of this initiative is to really tell the story behind the research,” said Sue Garman Kranias, director at the firm. “There's a political message, an economic message, there's a health message.”

The communications team plans to focus on broad media outreach and regional outlets where research universities are based. Social media components of the campaign will be rolled out in 2010, said Kranias.

While much of the focus on the ongoing campaign will be telling how federal dollars are being spent in the next two years, the universities are also seeking to position themselves for future funding.

“When the stimulus money runs out in 2011, we hope that we won't fall off this cliff and go back to the pre-Recovery Act levels,” said Andresen. “We hope that, as part of this process, the Administration, Congress, and the public will see there's some real tangible, substantive benefits for spending money on basic research.

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