Officials at Iowa’s three public universities report they’re at record or near-record levels for the amount of money they’ve secured to bankroll research and operations at the schools in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City.
University of Iowa administrators say while there’s “extraordinary” competition for grants and contracts, the U-of-I hauled in a record amount of money, over-and-above the amount of state taxdollars legislators provided for basic university operations.
In the fiscal that ended June 30th, 2006, the faculty, staff and students at the U-of-I secured a record high $366.4 million in grants and contracts. “These record-breaking numbers are a direct consequence of the outstanding efforts of the faculty, staff and student researchers to attract external funding,” says Meredit Hay, vice president fo research at the U-of-I.
Hay broke the figure down into two categories: $234 million in federal funds and $132.4 million from state, industry and private sources. Hay says the numbers represent a record high for the U-of-I. According to Hay, for the last 11 years, the University of Iowa has increased external funding by nearly 90-percent. “This represents a tremendous sustained growth and is evidence of the U-of-I’s ability to maintain and grow our market share of the external funds available,” she says.
Despite being a new record, Hay notes the $366 million figure is only an increase of 1.7 percent over last year. In the previous fiscal year, the increase was eight-and-a-half percent. “Given the state of federal funding, as you all know since the lion’s share of a lot of our grants is from the (National Institutes of Health) and the Department of Health and Human Services, given the funding federally following (Hurricane) Katrina and some other issues in terms of shifting of federal priorities, we were very, very pleased to know that we actually were able to maintain an increase in funding,” Hay says. She credits the “perseverance” of the U-of-I’s professors to continue going after and landing the funding in an extraordinarily competitive environment.
At Iowa State University, “external” funding is actually down slightly from the record amount last year, but still totals $280 Million. ISU spokesman John McCarroll says federal government grants to Iowa State declined over the last year, though funding’s up a bit from state, county and city governments.
McCarroll says lots of research simply wouldn’t get done, if the money didn’t come from the federal governments, foundations, companies and other sources off-campus as the state’s not in a position to provide as much as it takes to accomplish research objectives. McCarroll contends there’s no danger that getting outside money will taint the school or its quality of education or research. Rather, he says, business and industry come to fund research done at ISU that they think will help their business or the best interest of the community.
According to McCarroll, the grants, contracts and agreements involve a specific type of research or specific project. “What this reflects is a high level of confidence in the research work done at Iowa State to carry out particular projects.” He says there are protocols that govern how research projects are done and McCarroll says it’s a valuable part of education to have graduate and undergraduate students involved in doing research as well as simply studying.
The University of Northern Iowa reports it received nearly 20-million dollars in state and federal grants in the past 12 months. That does not include financial aid to students or gifts from individuals. Private gifts are included in the University of Iowa and Iowa State University totals.