January 21, 2003

Research Spending Jumps 12 Percent

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The amount of money Cornell spent on research in fiscal year 2002 increased 12 percent from spending in 2001. The increase reflected an 18 percent increase at the Weill Cornell Medical College campus in New York City and a 10 percent increase at the Ithaca campus.

“That’s a pretty significant jump, specifically in light of the poor state of the economy,” said Charles R. Fay, vice provost for research and administration.

Fay feels the increase is primarily a tribute to the quality of the faculty at Cornell.

Each year, the office of the vice provost for research releases figures on Cornell’s spending, funding and income patterns with regards to research. The total spending for 2002 was $465.7 million, with nearly $318 million of the expenditures at the Ithaca campus and the remaining $148 million at the New York City medical school campus.

Funding for research is divided into two general categories: “budgeted research” and research from Cornell’s own endowment. Budgeted research encompasses funds that are within the University’s budget and certain substantial federal and state funding for land-grant institutions.

Investments from this category, which are distinctive because funding is granted on a non-competitive basis, increased 9 percent on the Ithaca campus and 78 percent at the Weill Medical College. The reason for this disparity is primarily that the college made a conscious decision to increase their research volume in the last fiscal year in addition to receiving an exceptionally large amount of gifts intended to sponsor research, according to Fay.

The second category, funding specifically from Cornell’s own resources increased by 32 percent in the endowed colleges. It reached $22 million for fiscal year 2002. The University allocated 32 percent funding to the medical college, 37 percent to endowed colleges at the Ithaca campus and 31% to the New York state statutory colleges.

The federal government subsidized a large portion of Cornell’s research expenditures. Cornell’s highest federal sponsor, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provided $139.5 million in grants. The National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense (DOD) were second and third, with $84.5 million and $21.1 million in awards, respectively.

Research projects for technical facilities such as the Cornell High Energy Synchtron Sourch (CHESS), the Laboratory for Elementary Particle Physics (LEPP) and Macromolecular Diffraction Facility (MacCHESS)–all based at the Wilson Laboratory’s synchrotron complex–contributed to significant research expenditures.

“Such a significant increase should have a very positive effect on undergraduate research,” Fay said. Although graduate students have the opportunity to seek outside private funding from grants, the University’s own funds primarily support undergraduate research.

Archived article by Aliza Wasserman