Over the past 10 years, the University has upgraded its research facilities only once -- with the construction of the Clinical Research Building. At the same time, many other schools, especially state schools, have updated their facilities at a rapid pace. As a result, the University is losing a competitive advantage in applying for research grants. Since 1978, the University's national rank in the amount of overall funding it receives has dropped 10 places. In the most recent report from the National Science Foundation on University research funding, the University has fallen from ninth place to 19th place in only 10 years. University officials said last week this fall is directly related to a lack of facilities and a static number of research faculty. Although there are no plans to increase faculty, University officials are looking to the construction of the proposed Institute for Advanced Science and Technology to turn around the University's funding dilemma. The Institute, to be built on a site now occupied by Smith Hall, will house laboratories for science and engineering departments. "We are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Engineering School Dean Gregory Farrington last week. "The new facility is not a frill, but central to maintaining a major research university." And Executive Director of Sponsored Programs Anthony Merrit said he thinks the recent advancements the University has made and is making will help change the downward trend. "We think we have repaired that in the last two years," Merrit said. Although rankings have fallen, total funding dollars at the University have steadily increased. Between 1978 and 1988, the University's funding grew from $76,493,000 to $159,218,000, a 108 percent increase. In 1990 University faculty submitted proposals worth $388 million and 58 percent of the those proposals were funded. Nationally, only 24.1 percent of research proposals are funded. But funding in other universities has grown more rapidly. As the University's rankings fell, other colleges, mostly state schools, moved ahead. These schools include Pennsylvania State University, two Texas state schools and several University of California schools. These universities use part of the money they receive to build major new facilities which attract quality faculty and research grants. "The quality of facilities contributes to the quality of the faculty," said David Morse, Managing Director of the University's Institute for Higher Education. When the University chose not to spend its money on facilities, funding declined. As a result, the University was caught in a Catch-22 situation -- it had to spend money to bring in money. Engineering Dean Farrington emphasized that research is in trouble without new facilities. "I think we lag behind with the facilities and equipment that are necessary for an outstanding performance in the engineering fields," said Farrington. "We have no closet space left to renovate." Farrington said science and engineering research cannot make any progress without new facilities, and the current situation is "desperate." Not only has the University not seen any new research space, but the number of faculty members in the research fields has not increased either. According to Merrit, to increase funding the University must increase the amount of competitive faculty. The faculty already at the University are extremely competitive, he said, but the University needs more members to vie for top research funds. Vice Provost for Research Barry Cooperman said 65 percent of the University's 1,800 faculty receive outside funding. Farrington said increasing faculty does have returns. In the last few years the Engineering School has seen only a "slight" increase in faculty, but research income has grown significantly. Although the University does not receive much state funding, it remains in better standing with the federal government, from which it receives 72 percent of its research funding. In 1989, the University received 464 grants worth $97 million from the National Institutes of Health, and ranked 10th on its list. Most private universities receive more federal aid than state sponsored schools. John Hopkins University, a private school, received the most funding from NIH, while only ranking 12th in all funding received. Currently receiving the most research funding, Stanford University rose from fifth to first place in the 10-year span. Stanford's funding for research had a 215 percent increase, leaping from $88,198,000 to $277,504,000. According to National Science Foundation spokesperson Marian Moulton, funding depends on the specific departments at a university, not a university as a whole. The stronger the faculty, the stronger its chance of receiving research funding. NIH looks for basic criteria in all research proposals, including the significance, originality and methodology of the project as well as the success rate, qualifications and experience of the researcher.Comments powered by Disqus
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