Research grants may face the budget ax

(Feb. 2, 2004 - By Irene Thirwall | From The Collegian)

Current education cuts are not the only things students and faculty at Fresno State have to fear.

Along with state budget cuts, many research grants that have greatly impacted university educational programs are in danger of losing funding. Fresno State has received grant funding from various private foundations, federal and state agencies.

Dr. Thomas H. McClanahan, associate vice president for University Research, Grants and Contracts, said the current budget crises will continue to strain potential sources for research grant funding.

Fresno State has benefited from research grants for several years. A report written in The Fresno Bee Jan. 19 stated that Fresno State has received $165 million in grants and contracts during the past five years.

McClanahan said that the funding that Fresno State has received during the last several years has increased.

"We nearly reached $48 million last year, an increase of 25 percent over the previous year. Our volume of awards has quadrupled since 1996-97," McClanahan said.

Taken the past success in grant funding as a cue for the future, university President John Welty has developed a task force to reorganize grants and contracts on campus under one administrative agency.

Areas on campus that have benefited from grants include the science, agriculture, health and human services, social science, education, business and continuing and global education departments.

The United States Department of Agriculture ( USDA) is one agency that funds students and faculty in the agriculture department.

"The goal of the USDA is to help students identify an ag career they can pursue," said Dr. Dennis Nef, a professor of the college of agricultural science and technology.

Nef said the program helps expose students to future employers and those students, in turn, play a crucial role in recruiting future Fresno State students into the ag program.

The National Institute of Health ( NIH) also funds a program on campus. The NIH funds five faculty members and allows them to research, said Shirley Kovacs, a biology professor who administers the Support for Continuation of Research Excellence program.

"Our primary goal is to promote students to achieve and go on to receive their masters," Kovacs said. "Many students participate in this research." Kovacs said that the program grant might be in danger of being terminated. With the large workload the faculty has in addition to their research, they are limited in the ability to publish their work.

"The primary reason for this is time constraints," Kovacs said. "A large number of people who participate in the program will lose their job."

Kovacs and McClanahan will be making a visit to Washington D.C. to discuss the funding of the program with the NIH.

"For a year or two, things will be very difficult, but given the neccesary internal resources, in the long run our grants and contracts program has the potential to grow in both size and sophistication," McClanahan said.

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