"It's a very serious situation facing not only our university but the entire country," says the U of A's associate vice chancellor John Diamond. "We're supposed to be working in ways to help the public good."
The White House says the cuts would force research organizations like the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation to award fewer grants.
The move could cost thousands of jobs for scientists and students nationwide, while trimming more than $12 billion from research spending in 2013 and nearly $95 billion over the next 9 years.
But university leaders say those savings will come with a high cost to both education and the economy.
"This is uncharted territory, so we don't really know, we just know that funding levels will be much smaller," he says. "The process itself will play out over a long period of time so the impact on the university will be seen more down the road than it will be seen initially."
The University of Arkansas' Water Resources Center is already seeing effects.
"We only received 60 percent of our base funding, and that impacts what we're able to do over our next fiscal year," he says. "When you start limiting those funds were going to reduce the number of faculty we can support, which then reduces the amount of students that gets supported."
The center monitors the Illinois River basin and White River basin, which is the source of Northwest Arkansas' drinking water.
"The data that we collect tells us the story of what's going on with water quality in those basins," says director Brian Haggard. "We want to protect our drinking water quality, which is one of the most important things for the residents and industries in Northwest Arkansas."
Haggard's funding could dry up, if sequester cuts are left in place.
"If they just decide to do an across the board 10 percent cut, then we can manage that type of reduction on funds," he says. "If they decide to zero out or eliminate our program then that's a big impact for the state of Arkansas."
That means faculty and staff will have to find other mechanisms if they hope to pursue research fellowships.
"One of the missions we have at the Water Resources Center is to train the next generation of water resources scientists or engineers," he says. "Losing that base funding just limits the amount of exposure to things outside the classroom that students can get."