In the past four years, we have seen unprecedented growth in our research enterprise. Grant awards hit an all-time high of $109 million in the 2017 academic year, an astonishing 40 percent increase over a four-year period.
With two months remaining in the current fiscal year, we have already exceeded last year’s totals, reaching $118 million as of April 30.
This growth has been critical to our Carnegie R1 classification. Reaching that goal in 2016 was just the start, not the end. To maintain our R1 status among the nation’s top research universities, we must remain steadfast in our pursuit of funded research.
This year, our proposal submissions have softened. Increased student enrollment and added workload from the research projects we have added the past few years have undoubtedly left you with less time to prepare grant proposals. I expect to end the fiscal year with around $450 million in proposal submissions, a drop from around $560 million a year ago.
More submissions mean more opportunities to be funded, and this year, there will be opportunities. Federal budget analysts say the recently approved omnibus spending bill provides the largest year-over-year spending increase for federal research agencies since the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was a significant boon for university research.
Universities across the country will also be competing for these investments. At Clemson, we have been highly competitive and our awards have grown greatly even as total federal investments in university R&D have been relatively flat.
To help you seize this opportunity, we are investing nearly $2 million (up from $1.5 million a year ago) in our R-Initiative programs that provide seed funding and grants to support proposal submissions, the hiring of postdocs and research associates, the purchase of equipment, and other research endeavors. Read more about that here.
We have also launched Faculty Insight, an online portal that will help you identify collaborators and search for funding opportunities specific to your area of expertise. The customizable database of funding opportunities is a new, highly valuable feature in this new Faculty Insight system, which replaces the Research Expertise Discovery Suite. Please check out this new platform and see how it can help you advance your research.
Additionally, we are implementing a single-rate tuition schedule for graduate students that will reduce administrative burden and provide a competitive level of support to graduate students. One of the major benefits of sponsored awards is the support provided to graduate students in the form of graduate assistantships and tuition remission/Graduate Assistant Differential. More information on single-rate tuition is available here.
I want to thank everyone who participated in the recent Research Symposium and the organizing committee led by Brian Powell for putting together a great event. The Symposium connects researchers from across campus in hopes of sparking inter-disciplinary collaboration. We had representatives from each college and more than 40 departments participate in the various research presentations this year. Attendance has grown each year, and I appreciate your willingness to spend a day meeting colleagues and exploring opportunities to collaborate on impactful research. You can view the presentations here.
At this year’s symposium, we also recognized the university’s most accomplished faculty members with University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Awards (URSAAA). URSAAA is an exclusive award reserved for faculty members who reach the highest levels of national and international achievement in their fields. Less than 7 percent of Clemson faculty were awarded URSAAA status. View the full list of awardees and watch a video of the event here.
Thanks to all of you for your commitment to research and scholarship at Clemson University.