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IOWA CITY — Bolstered by tens of millions in federal stimulus and COVID aid, both of Iowa’s public research universities busted external funding records in fiscal 2022 — by $49 million at the University of Iowa and $42.6 million at Iowa State University.
The UI secured $867 million in external funding — including research-related grants and support — topping the campus’ previous record of $818 million set in fiscal 2021, representing a 6 percent jump.
Iowa State amassed $601.7 million in external funding — a nearly 8 percent jump over its previous high of $559.1 million the year before and marking its first step over the $600 million line.
External funding includes both research-related grants, contracts and awards along with fundraising dollars, gifts and bequests, and cooperative agreements with government entities, private individuals, corporations and nonprofits.
That pot of revenue has become increasingly important in recent years, with waning state support and less-reliable tuition income — given student losses during the COVID pandemic and the likelihood of an “enrollment cliff,” with fewer regional high school graduates.
Total external funding for the UI a decade ago hovered just over $500 million, while Iowa State’s total external funding in fiscal 2012 was $360.2 million — putting both universities up about 70 percent today.
Iowa State’s private nonprofit fundraising foundation generated $229.5 million in gifts in the most recent year, 52 percent over its $151 million in fiscal 2021.
The UI reported gifts from individuals, foundations, and corporations at $169 million in the recent budget year, up over its $128.5 million tally last year.
“We are deeply grateful to those who have made donations to support the research endeavors of our faculty, students and staff,” UI Center for Advancement President Lynette Marshall said in a statement. “Their generosity will make a profound impact on the life-changing work that is happening on our campus today and far into the future.”
Regarding research-specific grants, contracts, and awards, the UI netted $654.4 million in the recent budget year for 2,400 projects and programs to — among other things — treat disease, address the opioid epidemic, support mental health care for young people, and tackle renewable energy challenges.
That’s down from last year’s research-funding record of $702.4 million — which was driven in part by a 288 percent spike in NASA funding, from $9.2 million fiscal 2020 to $35.7 million in fiscal 2021.
Iowa State’s research funding in fiscal 2022 was up, setting a record of $284.2 million — 23 percent above last year’s $231.1 million and 9 percent above its previous record of $260.9 million in the 2019 budget year.
“Even during the height of the pandemic that impacted the 2021 fiscal year, the Iowa State research enterprise never really shut down,” ISU Vice President for Research Peter Dorhout said in a statement.
“The 2022 fiscal year reflects the resolve and excellence of our research faculty and staff and demonstrates that our partners in federal agencies, and in industry and nonprofits, truly value the creativity, expertise and innovation that the Iowa State research community brings to society’s greatest challenges,” he said.
Iowa State’s biggest federal research supporter in the 2022 budget year was the Department of Energy, with nearly $68 million, followed by the Department of Agriculture with about $48 million.
The vast majority of the UI’s federal external support came from the National Institutes of Health — at $186.3 million.
Research projects generating external support in the last year include:
- The UI-based Center for School Mental Health, a collaboration with the Iowa Department of Education, landing $20 million over two years to address mental health and well-being needs of pre-K-12 students and teachers.
- An Iowa Department of Justice award of $3.5 million to UI psychiatry professor Alison Lynch to address the state’s opioid crisis.
- A nearly $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture for an ISU study assessing new approaches to cover crops — like growing turf grass between rows of corn.
- A $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute for an ISU project using genome sequencing data to understand disease mutations and create software capable of making predictions and treating patients.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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