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Public Affairs Update

  • RSS Becomes Full Member of COSSA . . . . Effective January 1, the Rural Sociological Society (RSS) was elevated to full membership in the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). With this move, COSSA is now comprised of 15 core associations, which constitute its Executive Committee and Board. The American Sociological Association is a founding member of COSSA. Welcome, RSS!

  • Brintnall Gets Nod for APSA . . . . Effective February 1, Michael Brintnall returns to the American Political Science Association (APSA) as Executive Director. Brintnall has been serving as Executive Director of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) since 1997. Prior to that, from 1990 to 1996, he was Director of Professional Affairs at APSA. His links to the social science community permit a smooth transition.

  • Doubling NIH Budget on Track . . . . The 2003 budget request for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) fulfills the commitment to double the budget within five years. In 1998, NIH had a budget of $13.6 billion, and the 2003 request would bring the NIH budget to $23.6 billion if it should pass. The 2003 request represents a 16 percent increase over the 2002 allocation. The impact on support for the social and behavioral sciences, however uncertain, can only be for the good (as the “ship” rises).

  • NSF Gets Modest Budget Boost . . . . The President’s request for the fiscal year 2003 budget includes an increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF) of $5 billion. This increase of approximately five percent includes coverage for some programs that might be transferred to NSF. The Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) would realize a 16 percent increase were this budget to pass, and the Division of Social and Economic Sciences would receive a 14 percent upward adjustment. Given the lower base for the SBE Directorate, the total dollars, however, are comparatively small—$26.8 million. Of this amount, $10 million is targeted for the Directorate’s new initiative, with $5 million to be allocated to risk management and decisionmaking related to climate change.

  • NEH Faces Flat Funding . . . . The administration’s budget request for the 2003 fiscal year for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is a paltry $2 million increase. If approved, this increase would bring the total NEH budget to approximately $127 million. The increase is under 2 percent, and none of it is allocated to NEH Programs, which remain flat. Most of the increase is to put NEH in a position to fund the full costs associated with accruing employee pensions and retirement health benefits. The rest covers Congressionally mandated salary increases for the first three quarters of 2003 and a projected rent increase. Also, the administrative budget includes $300,000 for data activities. In addition, the 2003 request contains a new initiative entitled “We the People.” This initiative encourages proposals to advance knowledge of the events, ideas, and principles that define the American nation. Projects for this initiative would be taken to any of the NEH’s divisions and programs.

  • Brookings Study Addresses Social Science Views on Governmental Priorities . . . . In December 2001, the Brookings Institution released a report on Governments Greatest Priorities of the New Half-Century based on a survey of sociologists, political scientists, economists, and historians. Arms control and disarmament, increasing health care access, protecting the right to vote, promoting retirement security, and providing working assistance for the poor headed the list as top priorities. Study Director Paul Light reported that sociologists were most in favor of government activism followed by historians, political scientists, and economists. Overall ideological differences and gender differences need to be taken into account: A third of the sociologists were female, compared to a quarter of the historians, and just under a fifth of the economists and political scientists. For the complete report, see

  • NCES Releases Race/Ethnicity and Gender Data on Degrees . . . . In December 2001, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education issued the results of a study of degrees conferred in 1999-2000 by all postsecondary institutions in the United States. The proportion of degrees conferred to racial and ethnic minorities is highest for associate degrees and lowest for doctorates. Approximately 25 percent, 21 percent, 15 percent, and 13 percent of associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees were conferred to racial and ethnic minorities, respectively. A showing of 22 percent for first professional degrees to racial and ethnic minorities was substantially more favorable than doctorates. Women earned 60 percent, 57 percent, and 58 percent of associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, but only 44 percent of doctorates. For the complete report, see

  • Academic Endowments Fall with Economic Downturn . . . . A survey of 610 public and private institutions to be released in March reports drops in their investment portfolios. Most of the institutions surveyed report average rates of return between -3.4 to -3.7 percent. While this decline comes after 5 to 10 years of significant growth, it remains to be seen how these numbers might affect resources for faculty and students (e.g., travel funds) since most academic institutions use about 4.5 percent of the market value of their endowments each year. This survey is based on returns on investments for the year that ended June 30, 2001. The study was conducted for the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) by TIAA-CREF. For additional information see