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CAHNRS and WSU Extension again Raise Extramural Funding Bar

Posted by | July 26, 2010

It is no secret that recent reductions in WSU’s state budget allocations have left us in a challenging position. Despite these reductions, the University leadership has continued to articulate the need to continue to increase extramural funding, particularly from competitive federal sources. CAHNRS and WSU Extension have heeded this call and, with the recent completion of fiscal year 2010, the fruits of our labor have been announced.

In FY-10, CAHNRS and WSU Extension combined for a total of over $102 million in extramural awards. As reported in the Office of Grants and Research Development data base (the official data source for extramural awards at WSU), these awards account for approximately 47 percent of the university total.

The $49 million awarded through the Agricultural Research Center represents a 48 percent increase relative to the previous year (which was also the highest ARC total on record). This increase was largely fueled by increases in federal competitive awards, including several awards from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, and USDA Risk Avoidance and Mitigation Program.

A special shout out for a “job well done” goes to faculty and staff at our four research and extension centers. Five years ago, we undertook a strategic initiative aimed at enhancing the engagement of our centers in federal extramural funding and graduate education. They are responding in yeoman’s form and have demonstrated their competitiveness in the procurement of federal funds, particularly through the USDA-SCRI and USDA-AFRI.

WSU Extension’s total of $52 million represents a whopping 79 percent increase relative to FY-09. This sum represents the combined efforts of county, state, and center-based Extension faculty and staff. Their entrepreneurial spirit, in seeking funds to expand programming efforts despite limited state support, is truly inspirational. Special kudos to the folks at the WSU Energy Program for their significant contribution to the annual total for WSU Extension.

Everyone in our organization can share credit for these accomplishments. Obviously, great faculty members are required to accomplish such a large increase in extramural support. While we may be a little leaner than in the past, we are meaner — as in more aggressive and competitive in pursuing opportunity. Also, our support staff should share equally in the glory. Budget reductions have taken their toll on staff at both the administrative and unit levels. So, the processing of grant applications and the management of successful awards has been left to a leaner support staff. These folks have literally performed miracles in processing hundreds of applications over the year.

Finally, I believe this success also reflects the budget reduction strategy implemented in CAHNRS and Extension over the past three years. By employing vertical cuts and minimizing the impact on our highly productive units, we were able to largely protect our funding engines. And that means we continue to provide one of the best “returns on investment” for state dollars allocated in the state of Washington.

Go Cougs,
Dan Bernardo