University of Massachusetts trustees warned of ‘fiscal cliff’ fallout
AMHERST — Federal research funding totaling $32 million could be lost if the U.S. cannot avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, in which automatic cuts to defense and domestic discretionary programs, University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret told trustees Wednesday.
The university’s board of trustees met with Caret at the Mullins Center a day after meeting with UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy.
Federal agencies that finance the university’s research, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, would be subject to an estimated 8.2 percent reduction in funding, Caret said.
“The innovations and discoveries happening on our campuses that improve and save lives and nurture industries that keep the state competitive in the global economy would be put at risk if these cuts were to take place,” Caret said.
Caret called on President Barack Obama and congressional representatives to reach a deal to avoid such cuts.
His speech came on the same day the trustees approved a $480 million state funding request for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget request now goes to the state Legislature and governor’s office for consideration.
The presence of the trustees on campus prompted peaceful protests outside the Mullins Center by members of the faculty and student groups, according to UMass police.
The Coalition for Responsible UMass Employment used the occasion to push its ongoing campaign to get UMass to adopt a “responsible employer” policy in its contracting for and management of campus construction projects.
The policy would address issues such as safety standards, quality of work and fair wages and benefits. The Professional Staff Union, the UMass Student Labor Action Project, and the building trades unions of the Central Labor Council AFL-CIO make up this coalition.