When I saw Steve Warren, KU's vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, at a groundbreaking event on Friday, I asked him about something that I figured is probably frequently in the back of his mind nowadays: how the federal budget sequester is affecting KU's millions in federal research funding.
He said there's been one unfortunate piece of news: A government office called the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education, has indicated that it will simply stop awarding new research grants for the time being because of the federal budget cut.
KU already has a number of active grants thru the IES, and those will continue to be funded as scheduled. But grants expire eventually, and Warren said it looks like no new funding will be available for now.
Altogether, Warren said his best rough guess is that KU's federal research funding might decrease by about 5 percent for the 2013-14 year. KU gets more than $200 million per year, so that's a decrease of more than $10 million. And that would break a five-year streak of increasing federal research funding, Warren said.
This could be a real blow to a lot of folks, from young faculty who crave grants and research opportunities so they can achieve tenure to graduate students who sometimes rely on outside funding sources to fund their education. And the competition will likely get stiffer for whatever grants remain available from the federal government, Warren said.
Altogether, he said, it could be an "unpleasant" year, though he said KU would do whatever it could to shield faculty and students from the effects.
Anyone out there at KU who's seeing the sequester affect his or her work up close? If so, let me know at email@example.com. And send in those KU news tips, too.
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KU chancellor’s video urges Congress to prevent sequestration, making it feel like last 6 weeks of 2012 again
Ah, November and December 2012 — it was a time that seems so long ago, back when "Gangnam Style" had only just become the most-viewed YouTube video of all time and made me feel as though popular culture had permanently passed me by, when we could not even conceive of a power outage at the Super Bowl, and when we were all talking about the "fiscal cliff."
If, like me, you've been feeling nostalgic for those heady days of two-ish months ago, here's something for you. Officials from universities around the country are once again warning about the potential damage of a pending federal budget sequestration, and KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little is one of them.
Once again, federal research agencies are facing a mandatory budget cut if Congress does not do anything about it, this time by March 1. This one would be a cut of about 5 percent, which would apparently fall short of qualifying as a "fiscal cliff," as no one is calling it that anymore.
Gray-Little is among a number of university officials from around the country to record video messages to Congress asking members to "stop the sequester." This was done through ScienceWorksForU.S., an effort created by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities last year as the "fiscal cliff" approached.
All jokes aside, such cuts to research funding could have serious consequences for KU and other research universities. In her clip, Gray-Little talks about how federal dollars make it possible for KU to conduct research on subjects ranging from cancer to alternative fuels to history. Black and Veatch executive Jim Lewis chimes in to say that research universities like KU help to produce engineers for firms like his to hire.
Close your eyes and you can imagine we're back in that magical month-and-a-half or so at the end of 2012, when we first found out that Kate Middleton was pregnant and were all making jokes about the "Mayan" Apocalypse.
Send me your reminiscences of late 2012, or preferably your KU news tips, via firstname.lastname@example.org.