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We were delighted to welcome Mark Kennedy, president of the University of North Dakota, and Dean Bresciani, president of North Dakota State University, to the Tribune office Wednesday.

The pair are making their way around the state, meeting with business and community leaders and explaining why, as the state's two research universities, they should receive greater funding. The current funding system essentially treats all public colleges and universities the same.

Their point is that as research universities there should be a mechanism that allows greater funding to UND and NDSU.

Absent a new funding mechanism or change in the formula, the pair simply ask that in the upcoming legislative session consideration be given to adding $25 million to each school each year of the next biennium so they may expand their already successful research programs.

There are a number of studies that demonstrate the economic impact of research dollars. One study says that as much as 60 percent of the most far-reaching products and/or technology that impact our life were developed with government-funded research.

Whether it is disposable diapers, microchips or barcode packaging technology, government-funded grants played a key role in the research that brought those products to market. And we would be remiss if we failed to mention advances in food products, and an assortment of health and medical products that make our lives better.

All of these discoveries lead to real world advances that create jobs, and that is the bottom line of the economics.

The two university presidents may seem like a bit of an odd couple, given that we usually see them as competitors, but the reality is both of them understand the positive impact their universities can have on North Dakotans and their shared vision deserves our support.

In the short term that vision is simply additional funding through the traditional legislative process. But long term we must create new funding mechanisms that make this commitment sustainable.

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Gary Adkisson is publisher of the Bismarck Tribune.

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