By Kyle Swanson, Daily News Editor
Published September 16, 2010
After breaking the billion-dollar mark in 2009, research spending at the University continued to climb over the last year, setting a new institutional record.
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University research spending rose 12.1 percent last year, increasing from $1.02 billion in fiscal year 2009 to $1.14 billion in fiscal year 2010, Stephen Forrest, the University’s vice president for research, announced at yesterday’s Board of Regents meeting. The 2010 fiscal year ended in June.
And while the increase is impressive, Forrest explained that 5.1 percent of the increased research funding was the result of stimulus funding, while the remaining 7 percent was from conventional funding sources.
Funding from federal government sources rose 14.7 percent over the past year. The National Institutes of Health increased research funding to the University by about 20 percent and the Department of Energy increased its funding by 25 percent.
Funding from the Department of Homeland Security also jumped dramatically from last year, from $1.6 million in 2009 to $2.5 million in 2010. Similarly, funding from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Agency for International Development also increased by more than 50 percent in the past year, increasing by 57 percent and 78 percent, respectively.
However, the University lost ground in the research funding it received from non-federal sources, which include industry organizations, non-profits and state and international governments.
Gifts from public charities rose by approximately $2.5 million last year, a 20-percent increase from 2009. And while support from international organizations rose by 76 percent, from $140,000 in 2009 to $246,00 in 2010, the increase was outpaced by a 67-percent loss in revenue from foreign governments, which resulted in a $498,000 drop in research funding.
Overall, research funding from non-federal sources fell by 4.7 percent between the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years. However, combined with resources from federal entities, the University’s research grew 11.8 percent.
The other 0.3 percent of growth in the University’s research budget last year was the result of University funding sources, which grew by 12.9 percent, from $250 million in 2009 to $282 million in 2010.
University funding sources don’t account for endowment revenue or development activities that aid research, both of which are counted as non-federal funding sources.
And while continuing to make double-digit percent gains in research spending may not be possible for the University, once stimulus funding expires, Forrest said the University is currently on track to maintain a robust research budget this year.
“Although it’s still early, we remain on a similar track for (this year),” he said.
In an interview following yesterday’s meeting, University President Mary Sue Coleman praised the University’s quickly growing research-spending levels.
“Of course the stimulus funding is extraordinarily impressive, but what I was even more impressed with was the underlying 7 and a half percent increase on just the base,” Coleman said. “Because when you get a base as big as a billion dollars, to get that type of a percentage increase is astonishing.”
Coleman added that aside from the sheer volume of money allocated to research on campus, it’s also important to consider the implications of the research, which benefits students and faculty while also often resulting in practical applications.
“Because we really focus on interdisciplinarity across the institution, getting people together, we’re able to compete for really big projects,” Coleman said, referencing the $19.5 million grant the University received from the U.S. Department of Energy. “I think it’s just tremendous because it offers more opportunities for our students to get involved.”