Rice University touts importance of research as lawmakers pass tax on university endowments

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 04:23:27 AM. Rice University took to Twitter this weekend to promote the value of academic research and science as the Senate passed a tax bill that would tax the private Houston university's endowment. The university shared a video from the Association of American Universities, an elite group of public and private research universities of which Rice is a member, on its Twitter feed to say it's 'more important

Rice University took to Twitter this weekend to promote the value of academic research and science as the Senate passed a tax bill that would tax the private Houston university’s endowment.

The university shared a video from the Association of American Universities, an elite group of public and private research universities of which Rice is a member, on its Twitter feed to say it’s “more important than ever” to support research universities “for a better America tomorrow.”

It included the hashtag "#reworkthereform" with its post.

“Science is everywhere, and it’s universities that help make it happen – from lasers, to the polio vaccine, to the screen you’re using to watch this video,” the video said. “(Discoveries) grow the economy, save lives and bring the future closer every day. There’s a word for that, progress, and it’s not going to pay for itself.”

Rice posted the video on Friday, hours before U.S. senators would pass their version of a tax reform bill.

Rice President David Leebron called the endowment proposal “very discriminatory” and “ill-thought-out” in an interview with Politico published last week.

“The proposal literally makes no sense, as a coherent addition to the tax code, and represents a federal intrusion into universities that I think will only have adverse consequences,” he said.

Students at Rice and the University of Houston protested a separate measure of the House’s version of the bill in November: a provision that would tax tuition waivers for graduate students as income.

“Please continue to reach out to your Senate and House representatives and ask them to vote against the bill,” the Graduate and Professional Student Association at UH wrote on Facebook. The group held a postcard-writing event in late November for students to write their elected officials.

House and Senate Republicans now must reconcile their bills for President Donald Trump's signature.

Lindsay Ellis writes about higher education for the Chronicle. You can follow her on Twitter and send her tips at lindsay.ellis@chron.com.

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