Research funding cut by $16 million

Funding for research at the U is down by more than $16 million, and many colleges at the U are being greatly affected by the decreases.

Money for research is expected to reach only $175 million this year, down from the $191 million in the 2005 academic year.

Several colleges hardest hit by the decrease include the College of Medicine, down by more than $11 million, and the College of Engineering, with a $7-million drop.

The humanities, education, business and social and behavioral science colleges also have sharp decreases in research awards.

Research dollars have been increasingly difficult to find for several years, but this year’s is a significant decrease, said Raymond Gesteland, vice president for research.

“Money for research has been decreasing for a few years now, reaching a plateau last year,” Gesteland said. “However, this year is a dip for sure and is becoming a general problem across campus.”

However, the U is only one among the thousands of universities across the country struggling to find research funds.

As federal dollars are being diverted to specialized programs, such as homeland security and national defense, universities and research facilities through the country are paying the price, Gesteland said.

“This is a tough time for all federal funding agencies because their budget is constrained by commitments to defense and security,” he said. “And this decreased flexibility has pulled 5 to 6 percent of our research funding.”

To combat the funding decrease, the U is working to emphasize interdisciplinary research and create “pump priming” programs, Gesteland said.

“We are creating new programs, including one in the health sciences and the other campus-wide, to help attract more research dollars from outside organizations,” he said.

“These research figures, however, only reflect awards on the college level,” said Paul Brinkman, assistant vice president for budget and planning. “And there is likely still a lot of volatility at the departmental level.”

Brinkman also said that colleges and departments will often spend the awarded money over the course of more than one year, so the numbers might be slightly skewed.

Additionally, while overall research awards are down, several colleges have seen record increases, including the College of Mines and Earth Science, with an increase of more than $3 million, and the College of Health, with more than a $400,000 increase.

The colleges of nursing, fine arts and social work also saw increases in research awards.

Many students don’t think about the research going on across campus, said Kristyn Orgill, a junior in international studies, and research projects don’t get the credit they deserve.

“I think it is sad that researchers don’t get the money that they need,” Orgill said. “But it depends on the research, and sometimes it just doesn’t outweigh other causes.”