Texas A&M University President Elsa Murano has been selected to co-chair a new national initiative to maximize and advance contributions by public research universities to reduce the country's reliance on foreign oil and to develop renewable energy resources.
Dr. Murano's appointment to provide leadership for the multi-faceted program was announced by Peter McPherson, president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), which is sponsoring the initiative. McPherson said Ohio State University President Gordon Gee will serve as the other co-chair for NASULGC's 15-member Energy Initiative Advisory Committee that includes 11 other presidents or chancellors of top universities and university systems from throughout the nation.
"Public research universities have important contributions to make in addressing our need for energy independence," Murano said. "All sectors of society need to pull together as part of the solution, and our universities are uniquely positioned to help. We want to be clear about the capabilities offered by our member-institutions and explain these strengths to decision makers in Washington."
Texas A&M has a long history of research and service related to the oil and gas industry and, more recently, has taken leadership roles in a variety of renewable energy initiatives that cross several academic disciplines, Murano noted.
"We have in this country, and in our institutions of higher education, an innovation imperative," said Gee. "We must solve the enormous challenge of energy independence by coalescing our vast human talent, creativity and innovation. This century's Sputnik moment awaits our solution."
Other members of the advisory committee:
. David B. Ashley, President, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
. Jimmy G. Cheek, Chancellor, University of Tennessee
. George E. Cooper, President, South Carolina State University
. Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University
. Stephen Forrest, Vice President for Research, University of Michigan
. Gregory L. Geoffroy, President, Iowa State University
. Virginia S. Hinshaw, Chancellor, University of Hawaii
. Robert Kelley, President, The University of North Dakota
. Robert A. Kennedy, President, The University of Maine
. Michael V. Martin, Chancellor, Louisiana State University
. C.D. (Dan) Mote, Jr., President, University of Maryland, College Park
. Michael Telson, Science Advisor, University of California and former chief financial officer at the U.S. Department of Energy
. Mark G. Yudof, President, University of California
McPherson said the energy initiative also includes two subcommittees, a technical group and an advocacy group. The technical group, led by Mike Witherell, vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Santa Barbara and former director of Fermi Lab, and Claude Canizares, vice president for research and associate provost of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will bring together expertise from a variety of robust public research universities.
Alison Fox, assistant director of the Washington office for Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stacy Rastauskas, assistant vice president, federal relations for the Washington office for Ohio State, will co-chair the advocacy group, which will identify and assess relevant legislation, promote public research university interests before Congress, and help develop presentations for Congress.
McPherson said that, based on preliminary input from the advocacy group, the technical group is already preparing to make contributions to the Congressional appropriations and authorization legislation now under way. It will identify the most appropriate areas for university contributions to specific federal programs and needs; quickly provide NASULGC staff guidance on responses to agency and Congressional energy program and funding proposals; promote the role of universities to federal agencies; and identify appropriate university faculty to participate in our planned energy/environment briefings before policymakers.
"America's public research universities have long played a significant role in the research, development and deployment of energy science and energy technologies." McPherson said."Collectively, we can channel the way for making more of these contributions a reality."
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