UO appeals to Oregon delegation for research relief

May 20, 2020 01:29 pm

On Monday, May 18, UO leadership sent a letter to the Oregon congressional delegation requesting university research workforce relief in the next coronavirus stimulus package.

The letter, signed by President Michael Schill, Vice President for Research & Innovation David Conover, and Dean of the College of Education Randy Kamphaus, asked the Oregon delegation to include $26 billion in emergency supplemental funding for federal research agencies to allow for cost extensions to existing grants. Higher education associations arrived at the request by estimating four months of grant activity across all sponsored research agencies such as National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The letter highlights that the total amount requested includes $75 million specifically for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

UO leaders pointed to the difficulties facing the UO research community, highlighting the impact of the holds placed on nearly all research efforts as a result of the government’s stay at home requirements.

“Unless Congress acts, we are reaching a point where layoffs of grant-funded personnel will begin and accelerate as we move forward into summer,” the letter states. “Congressional action will assure that the federal funding agencies have supplemental funds to backfill losses on individual grants and thereby enable current projects to be completed once research reopens.”

The letter references a supporting document provided by the UO Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation that estimates a total loss to date of more than $3.6 million in research expenditures, with a forecast of $14 million to be lost over the course of the next four months. The reason for the expected dramatic increase in financial loss is due to summer typically being a time of intense research activity during which students, researchers and faculty work full-time and draw salary.

These concerns prompted national higher education advocacy associations to issue requests to Congress for increased funding to the research workforce, including an April 7 letter to congressional leadership from the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and two other major higher education organizations.

For more information on the efforts of higher education associations to request increased federal funding of the research workforce, read the April 14 Government and Community Relations Blog post here.