On Friday, September 27, 2013, Provost Rogan Kersh made a public commitment to Wake Forest University’s ongoing support of open access by signing the “Open Letter to the Higher Education Community,” in support of the proposed Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) bill. FASTR, introduced to both the House and Senate in February with bipartisan support, seeks to ensure that Federal agencies with $100 million+ of annual extramural research funding make the outcomes of taxpayer-funded research openly, publicly available. FASTR builds upon the success of the National Institutes of Health’s Public Access Policy, the first U.S. public access policy enacted in 2008, and compliments the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s February 2013 memorandum directing Federal agencies with $100 million+ annual R&D budgets to provide public access to publications and data, plans for which were submitted by agencies last month.
Provost Kersh’s signature is the latest in a series of public commitments made by Wake Forest Provosts to encouraging broader open access to research, building on former Interim Provost Mark Welker’s signing of the Berlin Declaration in November 2011, and former Provost Jill Tiefenthaler’s signature of a similar letter supporting the Federal Research Public Access Act, the earlier iteration of the FASTR legislation, in May 2010. While Congress’s energies are currently focused on the looming midnight deadline to halt a government shutdown, hope remains that once we are past this current showdown, strong bipartisan support of FASTR will continue to grow, boosted by the support of institutions across the academic community. Proudly, Wake Forest is once again among them.