Kansas University's research spending climbed to another high in 2005, though the university dropped four spots in a national ranking of public research universities in one key funding category.
KU Vice Provost for Research Jim Roberts lauded the growth in spending, attributing it to increases in the number of researchers, expanded research space, growing research and an optimism among researchers.
"I think people believe that they can go after grants and contracts and win them," he said.
Roberts downplayed the drop in rankings.
"You've got to really look at the long-term trends in rankings to make much sense in it," Roberts said.
The university focuses on two figures, which are federally funded science and engineering expenditures, and all expenditures.
Federally funded science and engineering expenditures on the Lawrence and KU Medical Center campuses climbed 8.7 percent from $101.9 million in 2004 to $110.8 million in 2005.
Total research, development and training expenditures rose 2.6 percent from $273.9 million in 2004 to $281 million in 2005.
The figures represent spending for salaries, stipends, equipment and other items for research. And they present a good way to gauge the level of actual research taking place at KU, Roberts said. The reports are generated internally.
But outside agencies watch some of the figures - which are a basis for rankings in the U.S. News and World Report surveys and for membership in the Association of American Universities.
"AAU is an exclusive club," Roberts said. "People are knocking on the door trying to get in."
Roberts said National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health funding is up at KU. He said the work of new faculty is also a factor as well as added research infrastructure.
KU reported ranking 45th last year for federal research among public research universities. This year it ranks 49th.
Roberts said he didn't know which schools surpassed KU in the rankings, except he recalled the University of Nebraska-Lincoln did so because the school reported for the entire system and not just the Lincoln campus.
The ranking is assembled by KU staff, said Kevin Boatright, spokesman for the office of the vice provost for research, and aren't among the many charts on the topic available on the National Science Foundation Web site.
Such schools as Wayne State University in Michigan, Oregon State University and North Carolina State University rank above KU on the list for federally funded research expenditures at national public research institutions in 2003, which is the latest information available.