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President Wilson praises Obama decision to invest in higher education innovation

BOSTON - University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson today praised President Obama's decision to propose the creation of a $123 million fund aimed at fostering reform and innovation in higher education.

President Wilson called the proposed "First in the World" fund, "a farsighted effort to foster educational innovation and to set the stage for long-term national economic growth."

"This proposal is consistent with the principles President Obama enunciated in his State of Union address when he said that we must 'win the future' by investing in education and by maximizing the capabilities of every student and every citizen," said President Wilson, who serves as chairman of the National Board of the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).

FIPSE's mandate is to improve postsecondary educational opportunities across a broad range of concerns. Through its various grant competitions, FIPSE seeks to support the implementation of innovative educational reform projects, to evaluate how well they work and to share the findings with the larger education community. FIPSE conducts a number of competitive grant competitions each year for projects that focus on widely felt issues and challenges in postsecondary education and that support local initiatives, with the potential for national influence.

The funding for the higher education innovation fund, which also seeks to increase college completion rates, was proposed yesterday when President Obama unveiled his 2012 federal budget.

President Wilson urged Congress to approve the innovation fund, saying: "Education is the key to long-term, sustainable economic growth. Our national system of higher education achieves at a high level, but it can do more. We need to bring the best ideas and the best thinking to the forefront and disseminate those ideas and initiatives as widely as possible. The investments we make today in educational innovation will lead to renewed economic vitality and to a more prosperous tomorrow."

As chairman of the federal FIPSE panel, President Wilson had recommended the creation of an education reform and innovation fund. President Wilson and University of Maryland system Chancellor William E. Kirwan met with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan last month to discuss the idea.

"Chancellor Kirwan and I are very pleased that President Obama and Secretary Duncan have chosen to move forward in this important area," President Wilson said.

Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073


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