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KU Research Expenditures Stable in 2015; National Ranking Unchanged

Thursday, December 17, 2015

LAWRENCE — Research at the University of Kansas affects people, communities and whole industries through discovery and innovation. Whether it involves human health, energy and the environment, information technology, or the humanities and social sciences, the research efforts of faculty and staff make a difference in Kansas and elsewhere.

That work also has a profound economic effect, and it influences KU’s international reputation. During fiscal year 2015, externally sponsored research expenditures at KU totaled $238.8 million. This includes expenditures at all KU campuses for research and development, capital, training and service. 

This was $48,200 less than in 2014, a significant result given the ongoing federal budget sequester and the competitive environment for federal research funding. Federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation account for more than 85 percent of KU’s total research funding. The rest comes from industry, private foundations and state sources.

“What really matters is the outcomes of research, not the dollars,” said Jim Tracy, vice chancellor for research. “People survive and enjoy healthy lives. The environment is protected while oil and gas are extracted more efficiently. A book or work of art explores new insights and ideas. This translates into citations in publications and even inventions in the marketplace. All of these products of research make it very worthwhile, and KU is very good at it.”

In a separate measure of research strength, the fiscal year 2014 National Science Foundation survey of higher education research and development expenditures (HERD) ranks KU 38th among national public research universities in terms of federally funded research only. The HERD survey was released in November. KU’s ranking in this selected category is unchanged from the previous year and places KU second in the Big 12 Conference, behind the University of Texas at Austin.

“Stable research funding reflects the strength, persistence and reputation of our faculty and staff,” said Richard Barohn, vice chancellor for research at KU Medical Center. “There are enormous pressures on research universities today, especially at medical schools that rely on an uncertain mix of federal, state and tuition funding. Keeping a competitive edge is a constant challenge, but we see the outcomes of our research every day in hospitals and clinics and in the lives of patients.”