Eastern Michigan University has received over $20 million in research grants in the last two years. The university has begun to invest significantly in research for several different departments around campus, including a $2 million Title III grant to encourage and promote STEM majors at Eastern.
Crayn Charter, the Director of the Office of Research Development, said EMU is not going to become a research-intensive institution any time soon, however, EMU submits around two hundred proposals a year and 50-58 percent get accepted.
While the report for the 2014 financial year has not yet been published, the Office of Research and Development says that the percent of approved proposals has gone up significantly this year.
Jeffery Kentor is the Associate Provost and VP of research and investment. His office helps faculty members and GA students write funding grant proposals and also helps manage the grants when they get them.
“What we want faculty to do is to focus on the research, not the management of it,” Kentor said.
When a faculty member or graduate student at EMU wants to begin research, they utilize grants.gov to apply for grant money. The Department of Education gave 53 percent of research funding, the Defense Department 15 percent and the Small Business Administration 10 percent. Only 3 percent came from other sources. Private businesses gave EMU $258,386 in research funding last year. The average award in the last financial year was $96,929.
“The push is to increase the level of grant activity. That can be done by providing support for faculty research and having more faculty active in the grant writing process,” Charter said.
The ride hasn't always been smooth. According to the 2013 Databook, research and development awards from the federal government dropped from more than $10 million in 2008 to around $5 million last year. While part of this is due to an end in stimulus funding, Kentor partially blames the government shut down.
“You could see how much our research dropped and that's pretty consistent on any federally supported activity that those grants just weren't made,” Kentor said. “And you can imagine that you have people who you've hired to do research - and then the funding just stops – that they didn't accept proposals. It's gone forever. And then it took time to restart the engine.”
Other than grants, the university does internal research support programs, including the Faculty Research Fellowship. With programs like that, faculty members and GA students can receive up to $3,000.
In general, Kentor says that there is a lack of available funding for research, especially compared to the rest of the world. In the EMU Databook there is a chart showing the amounts of money the university got from 2008 to 2013. Research funding is steadily wearing down and service funding is beginning to dominate. Despite this, Kentor’s dedication to research at EMU has not stopped.
“Research is a key part for any university,” Kentor said. “It’s synergistic with educational activity. The two feed into each other. We've had a push on investment on the research side. Eastern's done a lot of research and will continue to do more.”