Campus: CSU Fresno -- December 17, 2003

Grants, Contract Awards Set Another Record at $48 Million

Fresno State recorded another banner year for grants and contracts in 2002-03. Projects funded by non-state entities increased to more than $48 million, nearly 25 percent higher than the previous year's high of $38 million.

The new total marks the sixth consecutive year of that faculty and staff have secured record totals in external funding for sponsored projects. Sponsored project funding has quadrupled since 1997.

“Our grant funding capacity is expanding as faculty members continue to become more experienced at capturing the attention of funding sources,” said Dr. Thomas McClanahan, associate vice president for University Research, Grants and Contracts. “In addition, faculty are backed by proactive administrators who encourage them to seek and create new programs and opportunities within their schools and colleges, despite state budget realities.”

The University Grants and Research Office works closely with faculty to prepare and submit proposals. Last year more than 500 proposals were submitted to outside agencies. President Welty reaffirmed recently that he wants this trend to continue, and has directed a new task force to guide the reorganization of grants and contracts so that pre-award activities and post-award administration both fall under a single administrative structure on campus. The reorganization is expected to take most of 2004.

Fresno State receives project and research funding from numerous sources, including federal, state and municipal agencies and private foundations.

Key federal sources include the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture.

Important state funding sources include the California Energy Commission, Department of Education, the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Food and Agriculture. Examples of private funding sources include the Public Utilities Commission, The California Endowment, the Garabedian Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, the American Vineyard Foundation, the Coleman Foundation and the California Wellness Foundation.

The grants vary enormously in size and focus. Biology Professor Shirley Kovacs, for example, is in her fourth year of administering the SCORE program, funded by the National Institutes of Health. Through multiple contracts over several years, a total of more than $2.4 million in NIH funding supports meritorious, investigator-initiated research projects in biomedical or behavioral sciences. Individual faculty funded through this program include Dr. Alejandro Calderon-Urrea, Dr. Jim Prince, Dr. Jorge Benetiz, Dr. Maurice Cohen, and Dr. Christine Edmondson.

The College of Health and Human Services recently received a multi-year grant of more than $2 million from The California Endowment to establish and operate the Central Valley Health Policy Institute. The grant will help facilitate an interactive regional process to identify, monitor, and analyze emerging health policy issues that influence the health status of people living in Central California. The goal is to develop the infrastructure and regional capacity for addressing health policy issues that affect valley residents by implementing leadership development activities, facilitating community engagement in research, and conducting educational and training programs.

Dr. Dennis Nef, interim dean of Undergraduate Studies and the former associate dean of the College of Agricultural Science and Technology, continues to receive funding to support a variety of Ag Literacy activities. The programs are geared to encourage participants to think out of the box about careers in agriculture, exposing them to ag-related professions beyond field labor as well as to the ag programs offered at the university.

This year’s awards from the CF3 group (Kellogg Foundation) includes more than $50,000 for community-based activities emphasizing the importance of agriculture in the rural community of Firebaugh and an outreach effort to the farm worker families of a ranch owner in rural Orange Cove. In addition, a 3-year grant from USDA ($299,482), provides funding to encourage regional high school and community college students into enter ag programs and careers.

McClanahan is enthusiastic about the extraordinary growth in grant and contract funding but also realistic about the near-term prospects for more expansion.

"I am optimistic, but the next few years are likely to present some unique and difficult challenges, especially for California universities like Fresno State. The state budget crisis may already have begun to erode potential sources of research funds, and the growing federal budget deficit will undoubtedly take a toll as well. In addition, the transition to managing grants and contracts through the state will certainly require the University Research, Grants and Contracts Office and some faculty to focus on mastering a new process," he said.

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

Contact: Shirley Melikian Armbruster (559) 278-2795 or (559) 593-1815


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