ISU external funding increases substantially in 2014 fiscal year

Emily Barske

Iowa State’s external revenue increased by 12.9 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The university’s funding rose to $368.4 million, second only to the 2010 fiscal year total of $388.2 million, which was assisted by federal stimulus money.

External funds to the university come from federal agencies, nonprofits and other institutions. The majority of the additional funds will go toward the research department, but smaller portions will help support education, buildings and financial aid.

As a research university, Iowa State needs to be competitive for external revenue. Sarah Nusser, vice president for research, credited the increase in funding to the work ethic of the staff and the importance they gave to research.

“The growth in the research area is really because the faculty have been aggressive about pursuing funding and they are well-qualified to receive that funding,” Nusser said.

Of the external funding sources, federal funds showed major gains. Federal funding increased by more than 20 percent in the 2014 fiscal year. The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were the two highest federal contributors.

Miles Lackey, chief of staff for President Leath, believes Iowa State is superior to the competition for federal funds because of its ability to foster research through technology and collaboration between departments.

The funds for research will be allocated to the different colleges at Iowa State specific to the guidelines of the various grants. Some grants are for numerous years, others are to be split between different departments and will be used for specific applications. While the funds’ guidelines and research types vary, research has a strong impact on the university and society Nusser said.

“Research is really important in terms of economic development. Many of the discoveries here at Iowa State have the potential to help industry, solve their problems or to develop new products,” Nusser said. “It’s not only an engine for our knowledge for society, but also for developing our economy, creating new jobs and attracting new companies to Iowa.”

Lackey added that the external funds support everything from the stakeholders at Iowa State to small businesses in Iowa. The research department is excited to get to work with these additional funds, some of which are already in use.

The increase is incredibly astounding when considering the scarcity of funds available, Nusser said. There is currently a tough environment for federal funds.

“The 12.9% increase across all revenue sources is really impressive,” Lackey said.

Iowa State will continue working to enhance its research program both by the research it conducts and how it approaches proposals for funding.

“We’re excited to see this this year. It is our goal to continue to increase sponsor funding,” Nusser said. “Faculty are the engine to doing that, so a lot of our current thinking is on how we can help faculty in terms of pursuing sponsored funding and focusing on their research topics, as opposed to the administrative processes to acquire funding.”