The University of Wisconsin System was awarded nearly $83 million in stimulus funds, with University of Wisconsin commanding the majority of that money, receiving $75.5 million for its 236 projects.
With more than 800 grant applications submitted from UW System faculty and staff, Director of Research Communications Terry Devitt said many are still being considered and may be approved in the near future.
“There are fairly large grant applications for research still under consideration,” Devitt said. “Anytime we can get research programs funded, it’s such an important way for us to conduct research and support our students and faculty.”
He added that for the past several months, faculty have been preparing and presenting their research for grant money.
According to UW spokesperson David Giroux, every campus throughout the System has participated in these grant applications. The breakdown of which campuses had the most awards showed UW to have 236 and UW-Milwaukee garnering the second most, with 14 awards.
“The distribution shows where the biggest capacity for research is held. The majority is done at Madison, with UW-Milwaukee be(ing) the next biggest researching enterprise,” Giroux said. “All the campuses do research and are aggressive in going after funds.”
Professor Andrew Reschovsky, expert on school finance and Wisconsin government spending, said the money was part of the government’s response to the recession. The money is government spending to quite explicitly try and jump-start the economy.
“It involves billions of dollars,” Reschovsky said. “Tax reductions, money to state governments, putting more money towards research agencies; these all help to put money back into the system.”
He added that with researchers being funded, some of the short-term benefits included researchers buying equipment and supplies and hiring graduate students to be assistants, which in turn would give money to retailers and suppliers while creating more job opportunities for students and staff alike.
Devitt said it was obviously a good thing for the university faculty, staff and students, as well as the Wisconsin economy.
“Much of the $75 million that we have received so far is all money that will be spent in Wisconsin,” Devitt said. “It will have an impact because it will amplify as it works throughout (the) economy.”
Giroux said some of the long-term effects would be bigger and harder to describe than the short-term effects. It would be like a ripple effect, where some of the research would lead to treatment for sickness and injuries, some would address social issues, and some would create new technology that would be commercialized.
“The benefits will be far-reaching in the future. The new technology that will be licensed and patented can be used in universities for years to come,” Giroux said.
As far as other economic impacts, Giroux added that the state benefits as a whole through the research because higher education shows through to the workforce and businesses.
“The most direct way it affects students is that a professor gets a grant and stays to do research, as opposed to leaving and going somewhere else,” Reschovsky said. “This way it attracts the best scholars to the university, which is a payoff to students to be at the forefront of the knowledge these scholars will teach them as their professors.”