Lisa Giddings, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

 

http://www.uwlax.edu/faculty/giddings

giddings.lisa@uwlax.edu

608.785.5297

 

Professor Carmen Wilson, Chair

Faculty Senate, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

 

Professor Wilson:

 

The faculty Research and Grants Committee met on the 22nd of February, 2006 to discuss the charge given to us by the Faculty Senate to report on the adequacy of the available financial resources to fund grants. In other words, the charge is to address the question of how many grants received partial or no funding only because of a lack of resources?

 

The tradition of awarding grant monies to faculty scholars at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has a long and venerable tradition that began with the idea of making an investment in scholarship. If we are serious about this idea, then the commitment should start here.

 

Looking back over the last five years, the number of proposals submitted to the committee has been fairly stable at between 21 and 26, with one peak year (2002-2003) of 36 submissions. The committee suspects that the number of proposals submitted is correlated with two factors: the number of new faculty hired in a particular year and the increasing requirements of publication for promotion and tenure decisions at UW-L.

 

We do not have information about the quality of the proposals as ranked by the unique committees each year, but make the assumption that while each year may have presented some range of quality in its proposals, overall, as faculty devote more time to research, better proposals are being submitted and, consequently, more proposals should be funded at the full amount requested. In each of the past five years, the committee has awarded the entire pool of money allotted to the fund, $150,000.[1]

 

While the number of proposals has been fairly stable in the recent past, two related factors have changed. The first is the cost of living. Economists estimate that the prices of all goods in an economy increase by approximately three percent per year. Because inflation measures average price increases for some relevant basket of goods, we can also assume that the cost of doing research increases annually by on or around the same amount. This suggests that the pool of money allocated to supporting scholarship at the university should reflect the increasing cost of living. If we were to adjust the pool of money to reflect inflation since 2001 for example, the current budget to be allocated this year would have been close to $170,000.[2] Based on similar calculations we would expect a budget for next year’s committee to be nearly $174,000.

 

The last time that the amount of money allocated to supporting scholarship at UW-L increased was in fiscal year 2001.[3] This surely suggests that the budget does not correspond to changing prices and, consequently, the changing constraints placed on our faculty. This committee recommends that the budget pool for the faculty Research and Grants Committee be indexed to inflation in order to reflect the general rise in costs associated with all goods, including scholarship.

 

The second factor that has been changing is the amount requested per faculty member. Each year this amount increases in accordance with the standard formula by which applicants base their request. Specifically, applicants can request 1/9 of the average faculty salary at that time, plus monies for supplies, travel, student help and other incidentals. This average salary has increased over time (from $5,724 in the 2002-2003 academic year to $6,771 in the 2005-2006 academic year), and as a result, the standard amount that faculty request of the Research and Grants Committee (not counting supplies, etc.) increases each year, duly squeezing the overall budget.  

 

Furthermore, this Committee feels that the research grants available to UW-L faculty are unique and important. Such grants attract, encourage, and help to retain outstanding teacher-scholars here at UW-L. We would like to emphasize the important spillover effects that research has on pedagogy. Maintaining our commitment to this strong institution will strengthen our leadership within the University of Wisconsin System in both of the areas of teaching and research.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Lisa Giddings, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Economics and

Chair of the Faculty Research and Grants Committee, 2005-2006


 

[1] This number has fluctuated slightly around $150,000 (plus or minus approximately $2,000) to reflect the budgets that were ultimately funded.

[2] Given an initial value of $150,000 and a rate of inflation at 0.03 in the year 2001 we have the first increase of $4,500. The second increase would be based on the new value of $154,500 and so on. The 2005-2006 budgets would have been $168,826.

[3] The actual change in the budget for faculty research occurred in fiscal year 2000 however the money did not become available to the committee until the following year. In the 2001-2002 academic year the Research and Grants Committee was able to make a total award of over $180,000 using up the money from the previous year.