The University Record, December 19, 1994

Research expenditures at an all-time high

The University continues to be one of the premier universities for research, scholarship and creative activity in the nation, maintaining an outstanding record of achievement in the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, engineering, and professions, Vice President for Research Homer A. Neal told the Regents last week in his annual report.

The University’s research expenditures totaled $385,957,402 in l993–94, an all-time high.

“Sheer volume of research expenditures is not in itself a measure of excellence, but it does signify a remarkably diverse research effort and, inasmuch as the vast majority of these expenditures derive from peer-reviewed, federally sponsored programs, it is strong evidence of the excellence and competitiveness of our faculty,” Neal said.

“By at least one measure—total research expenditures—Michigan was the leading public research university in the country in 1993–94.”

Of the U-M’s 1993–94 total research expenditures, $267,261,567 came from federal agencies and $118,695,835 from nonfederal sources.

Research support from federal agencies accounted for 69.2 percent of the U-M total. Major funding agencies included the Department of Health and Human Services, $154,685,361; National Science Foundation, $47,232,938; Department of Defense, $19,331,749; NASA, $11,887,064; Department of Energy, $11,223,954.

Research support from non-federal sources accounted for 19.1 percent of the U-M total and included $27,058,894 from industry and $18,890,639 from others, including contributions. U-M funds accounted for 11.7 percent of the University’s total research expenditures.

Neal pointed out that “the University’s own investment in support of research, seeding new research activities and helping to leverage funds from other sources help make possible a research effort that is among the nation’s best and that contributes in a large number of ways to the good of society.”

“We have many reasons to be proud of our faculty’s accomplishments. Although we cannot even begin in this setting to account for all of their achievements in research, scholarship and creative activity, we can point to some of the more salient examples of recognition during the year, including the election of three to the National Institute of Medicine, three to the National Academy of Engineering, and one to the National Academy of Sciences.”

Neal noted, however, that “in retaining the University’s research scope and competitiveness, we face several large challenges.”

For example, “the end of the Cold War is forcing a rethinking of the nation’s rationale for investment in research,” he said. “This in turn has led to a change in the missions and objectives of national laboratories, potentially bringing them into competition with universities as providers of R&D to industry. At the same time, the nation’s economic growth has been lately constrained, limiting resources both in the private and public sectors.”

Neal continued, “the U-M has had a leading role in discussions concerning national science policy, and will continue to be active in this capacity in the year ahead.”

Other accomplishments during the year included:

-- “We have issued a new integrity in scholarship policy after consultation with the faculty and deans. It provides clear guidelines supporting high standards of academic integrity, as well as laying out the steps our community will take in monitoring itself to maintain these standards.

-- “We have created a Strategic Research Fund, used to ‘seed’ innovative research in new areas of interest. Funds have been used to help start or enhance programs in culture and cognition, biomolecular recognition, global change, non-linear studies, and a center for research in electronic work.

-- “We have established the Michigan Arts Award and Michigan Humanities Award, for faculty in LS&A, the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the School of Art and the School of Music.

-- “We have made new strides in economic development and technology transfer. For example, in 1994, 28 patents were issued on technologies arising from University-based research (up from 13 in 1993) and 58 patent applications were filed (up from 48). At least three spin-off companies were created, and software licensing, a particular strength of the University, increased from 347 in 1993 to 382 in 1994.”

Neal concluded, “We might wonder how well we are prepared to handle the shifts in the national environment. Fortunately, one of the benefits of a diverse and accomplished faculty is that they are, as a group, able to pursue research and scholarship at the cutting edge—and this, in turn, places them in a competitive position for recruiting students and obtaining external funding.”