Kansas University must overcome significant barriers to fare better in the race for research funds from federal sources, a new report from a KU institute says.
The Institute for Public Policy and Business Research said external funding to KU for science and engineering research and educational activities peaked in 1989. When corrected for inflation, the report said, funding to KU has leveled off since then.
"Obviously, if we are staying constant in terms of actual dollars, we're losing ground over time," said Kim Moreland, director of research support and grants administration in KU's research, graduate studies and public service office.
"It means . . . we will not be able to support the same quality of research on this campus that we have in the past," she said.
THE REPORT was prepared by the institute to illustrate the rationale for the state to participate in the National Science Foundation's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR.
The report was released to KU's Faculty Council on Thursday.
According to the report, only 1.2 percent of the NSF awards to KU faculty were $500,000 or larger. "KU is not attracting the large program awards," the report said.
In addition, 24 of the 93 faculty who submitted NSF proposals in the past six years are responsible for 66 percent of the NSF funds awarded to KU.
The university should develop programs to increase the pool of faculty receiving NSF awards, the report said.
"I support the notion of enlarging the pool of people going to an agency such as the NSF," Moreland said. "One of the most effective tools to enlarge that pool is a mentoring process."
She said a mentor program would link faculty with expertise in securing research grants with faculty unfamiliar with the process.
More analysis is needed to determine why award levels are small in some areas of the university, such as social and computer science, and what can be done to increase levels of external funding, the report said.
ACCORDING TO the report, the number of proposals submitted and resubmitted by KU faculty to the NSF should be increased given the increased competition for limited funds.
The report also said NSF funding to KU is generally restricted to single investigator awards which limit the size of grants. To significantly increase funding, more program projects must be obtained.
Given that a few faculty have obtained the majority of KU's NSF funds, every effort should be made to increase the pool of faculty with large bases of funded research, the report said.
In addition, the report said more educational service projects should be developed and submitted to increase external sources of funding for graduate education.
The institute's report shows that in 1989 KU ranked 83rd in external research funding and 97th in federal funding among U.S. colleges and universities.
"The cost of science has risen astronomically. It is very expensive just to get the equipment to do state-of-the-art research," Moreland said.