A two-way street

The Learning page article "Science For Sale?," Nov. 23, motivates me to write. The opening sentence states, "Linking research funding to national competitiveness is proving a mixed blessing for some United States universities."

According to the article, the 1989 House Committee on Government Operations "grilled" former Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Paul Gray for defending funding on the grounds of industrial competitiveness but then selling technology to Japan through the university's industrial liaison program.

I am pleased to read that David Lampe, associate director of MIT's industrial liaison program, defends the university's action by stating that "basic knowledge relies on free interaction with the best practice in the world.... We learn at least as much from the Japanese as they learn from us." In other words, the program is a two-way street.

The materials I have read indicate that the Japanese government works closely with the country's educational system and industry to plan and achieve long-range success. Perhaps a House committee should learn a lesson and follow MIT's lead to cooperate with Japan instead of criticizing the university's industrial liaison program. Howard Carson, Florence, Ala.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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