CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University research efforts attracted more than $252 million in external funding in 2008-09 – a funding record, and one of many areas in which OSU’s burgeoning research and scholarship efforts expanded the university’s impact on Oregon and the scientific community.
That quarter-billion in research support is one of the key findings in “OSU & Oregon: Recovery, Powered by Orange,” a white paper released by the university today that details OSU’s singular and growing contributions to Oregon, its people and its economy. OSU President Ed Ray, College of Science Dean Sherman Bloomer, Corvallis Mayor Charles Tomlinson and the heads of several OSU spinoff companies discussed the findings at media briefings in Portland and Corvallis.
“The record $252.16 million in external funding earned for OSU researchers marks an increase of $21 million over the previous year -- itself a record -- and growth of nearly $100 million since 2003,” said Ray. “That quarter-billion in external funding includes nearly $190 million in federal funding from a broad range of agencies – the most competitive arena for research support. The success of our faculty and student researchers in the midst of what was a challenging budget year otherwise is both breathtaking and inspiring. I’m enormously proud of their work and what it means for OSU’s future.”
Boding well for OSU’s continued growth in 2009-10 is the fact that virtually no American Recovery and Reinvestment Act research funds were available last year. Research monies appropriated for federal agencies were not awarded to grantees, for the most part, until the new fiscal year began in July. More than $12 million in Recovery Act grants have already been received by OSU for 2009-10.
The growth in research funding was one of several highlights from Monday’s presentation. Other key points included:
· Six federal agencies supported OSU research in 2008-09 at levels of $10 million or more, led by the National Science Foundation with cumulative awards totaling nearly $39 million. Other top agencies included the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Commerce and Energy and Health and Human Services.
· Technology transfer efforts resulted in more than $2.71 million in licensing receipts for the university, up from $2.57 million last year and triple what it earned annually just 10 years ago. Since 2003, OSU licenses have generated nearly $15 million in revenue.
· OSU research efforts attracted important national centers to Oregon in 2008-09, including establishment of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, the NOAA Marine Operations Center and Pacific Fleet, and key components of the Energy Frontier Research Center and Ocean Observatories Initiative projects.
· Spinoff companies are emerging in greater numbers from the university each year – firms ranging from Azuray Technologies, Mtek Energy Solutions and Home Dialysis Plus in Portland to Precision Plant Systems and Inpria Corporation in Corvallis. Those companies and others lend dynamism and opportunities for employment to the Oregon economy.
As Ray and others noted, such progress is an outgrowth of the growing strength and impact of OSU’s academic programs, which include an expanding array of national rankings for disciplines ranging from Geosciences to Nuclear Engineering to Wildlife Science. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, in fact, classifies OSU as one of only three Pacific Northwest campuses to hold its highest rating for research universities (the University of Washington and Washington State are the other two institutions so classified).
The national stature of those programs has helped to make OSU the university of choice for Oregon’s best and brightest students. In 2008, for instance, 38 percent of Oregon’s accredited high schools sent at least one student ranked no. 1 in his or her class to OSU, which also attracts more Portland-area valedictorians than any other college campus.
Ray, who frequently calls the university’s graduates “the single most important contribution that OSU makes to Oregon each year,” says providing access for Oregon students is an important, abiding dimension of OSU’s Land Grant mission. He pointed to the university’s “Bridge to Success Program,” which combines federal, state and OSU financial aid to allow qualified Oregon residents to attend OSU free of charge, a reflection of OSU’s commitment to Oregon. Bridge to Success covered more than 3,000 students in its debut last year, making it by far the largest program of its kind in Oregon, and will continue this fall, despite the economic challenges of the past year.
That commitment manifests further in the increased diversity of the student body, which this fall will include larger-than-ever numbers of racial and ethnic minority students and international students and will be OSU’s most academically high-achieving ever, with a projected overall GPA of 3.5.
“Even in times of adversity, such as we experienced last year with the economic downturn and serious challenges by way of decreased state funding, OSU managed to chart its own path to success, as this university always seems to do,” said Ray. “That’s great for our students, for this state’s economy and for Oregon, and gives us a great sense of hope as we prepare to begin the school year.”