ATHENS, Ga. - External grants for research, instruction, public service and outreach won by the University of Georgia last fiscal year topped $200 million for the first time in the university's history.
The $204.5 million intake for the fiscal year that ended June 30 marked a 17 percent increase over the previous year's figure. Grants earmarked for research comprised the largest portion, increasing to $139 million from $123 million awarded during the previous year.
Universities across the nation compete for a limited amount of external funds - funds not generated from the universities' budgets - which include contracts, grants and agreements from federal, state, private and corporate sources.
"This is a big deal for the University of Georgia," said Gordhan Patel, UGA's vice president for research and associate provost. "Especially when you look at it in the context that we do not have a medical school, nor a full-fledged engineering school, it is quite impressive. This kind of upward trajectory is very good for the state and has a positive impact on the economy."
George Leventhal, a policy analyst for the Association of American Universities - an organization of universities that provides a forum for national debate on academic policy and institutional issues - said that, while federal funds, especially for biomedical research, have flowed more freely in past years, "not every university across the board is getting money" because there is not an unlimited number of grants.
Regina Smith, UGA's associate vice president for research, said the recent mark is "a sign that we've moved into the big leagues."
Each year, the National Science Foundation compiles research and development data from colleges and universities across the nation, charting their expenditures of external funding for comparison purposes. While research and development expenditures are not necessarily the same as the intake of funds for research and development, Ms. Smith said the NSF's catalog is a respected compendium in academia.
Each year, she said, "we pore over that and see how we stand in national rankings," but she noted that the university also compares itself to other public universities - especially those without medical schools, because medical schools attract large sums in grants.
The most recent NSF rankings by total research and development expenditures at universities and colleges are 2 years old. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2000, UGA ranked 34th among all private and public colleges and universities and 22nd among 150 public colleges and universities.
University officials are optimistic UGA will ascend in the rankings when the most recent data from around the country are released this spring.