URA Council of Presidents

Fermilab Director
Pier Oddone

The annual meeting of the Council of Presidents of the Universities Research Association took place last Wednesday in Washington, D.C. URA and the University of Chicago partner to form the Fermi Research Alliance, which operates our laboratory for the Department of Energy.

The annual meeting, which attracts top-level representatives from each of URA’s 86 member universities, serves as a business meeting for the association and a forum for discussion of science policy and of the role of particle physics research in the United States. Invited speakers at the URA meeting included Office of Science Director Bill Brinkman, who spoke of his strong support for LBNE; our Congressional representative Randy Hultgren, who communicated his strong support for science research in the national agenda; Congressman Bill Foster, who represents the 11th Congressional district that includes Argonne National Laboratory and who demonstrated his command of particle physics; and NASA’s John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate, who presented the vast NASA science program. I gave a presentation on the role of Fermilab in the global particle physics landscape. A final, notable event at this meeting was the incorporation of the University of Manchester as URA’s newest member institution.

Another very important event occurred on the same day and in the same city: the inaugural meeting of the House Science and National Labs Caucus formed by Representative Randy Hultgren. He co-chairs the caucus with three additional members of Congress: Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA-02), Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM-03) and Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-MS-01). Congressman Hultgren’s introductory remarks explained the caucus’ goal of changing the culture so that the Congress and the public understand that science matters. He introduced the event’s speaker, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who did an excellent job in describing the importance of science for the nation, why our country needs national labs to support the fabric of scientific research with major facilities, and why a set of long-range national needs can only be addressed by national laboratories and not by other performers of scientific research. The inaugural meeting had a terrific attendance with more than 400 staffers, members of Congress and the public.