Monday, January 12, 2009

Cost of Doing Business

Why are the buildings needed?

"This is an effort by the university to grab market share" of federal research dollars, Pfutzenreuter said.

Not so fast, please. From Inside Higher Ed:

Expanding research may be a worthy goal in higher education, but doing so comes with significant costs that aren’t recovered by grants alone, according to a study published in Academic Medicine this month.

Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry found that the cost of supporting newly recruited scientists costs an additional 40 cents over every dollar these new faculty generate from grants. While colleges may grow in prestige by expanding their research base, they’re likely to dole out more money in start-up packages and other benefits for new faculty than they bring in through grants, the study asserts.

The landscape of federal funding for research has also changed since Rochester began its study in 1999, which marked the start of a now-dwindling effort by Congress to double the budget for the National Institutes of Health. With those dollars drying up, it’s possible that colleges will see even larger shortfalls as they expand research operations, Guzick said.
Something to think about President Bruininks, Provost Cerra, Mr. Pfutzenreuter?


Anonymous said...

I agree with much of your post but I am a little concerned with your omissions... rest of the "Rochester" article in question.... Looks like it supports UMN's approach.

"The study acknowledges that senior-level faculty generated more grant support per dollar invested in them than did their junior counterparts. Furthermore, institutions are more likely to recover a greater share of costs after new hires are in place for two years or more, the authors noted. As a research enterprise grows, and garners prestige, it’s also easier to attract strong young faculty or more senior-level investigators that may generate more dollars more quickly, Guzick said.

“It is a phenomenon of the rich get richer,” he said. “Not only in a financial sense, but in a talent sense.”

Mr. B. said...

Your point is well taken.

Of course hiring a well-funded senior researcher, or growing one, can "make" money. A young hotshot can also bring in the big bucks.

But let's be honest and upfront about this and admit that hiring new people who will bring in research grants is NOT a valid argument for new buildings unless the total cost is factored in.

The sad fact is that, net, justifying medical research for the money brought in is a losing proposition. In general, the more research grants you have the more you have to spend. Our Administration has been less than candid about this matter.

But thanks for your comment. I am selective about what is in the blog but always try to post a link so that interested parties such as you have a chance to check out the original.