The University of Indianapolis received a record amount of over $21.4 million in grants for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The amount is recognized to be a 139% increase from the last fiscal year, according to UIndy 360. The money received through grant awards was the sole source of compensation for those who applied for them, according to Director of the Office of Grants & Sponsored Programs Jeanie Neal. More notably, no grants earned were obtained from any COVID-19 federally distributed relief, according to UIndy 360, this alone is an over $12 million increase from the $8.9 million awarded the last year.
According to Neal, organizations, such as Lilly Endowment Inc., offer grant applications for professors to fill out that detail if the money is awarded, where funds will go specifically and how they are to be disbursed for the duration of the proposed project. Neal said, as Director of the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs, she offers faculty a skeleton proposal that serves as a sort of resume or cover letter for future grant applications. Professors can outline goals and descriptions as well as qualifications and budgeting for any possible forms needed to be filled out for organizations.
“I have a template that I give folks,” Neal said. “Maybe they haven’t found a grant that they want to apply for yet. And maybe they just know they have something they want to do that they don’t have the money for. They’ll need a grant at some point, and it makes it a lot easier.”
Some notable UIndy entities that are grant-supported, according to Neal, are the Metropolitan Indianapolis-Central Indiana Area Health Education Center (MICI-AHEC), the Center for Aging and Community (CAC) and the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL).
“So for example, especially CAC and CELL, since they’re really well known for the work that they do, occasionally people will approach them and say, ‘Hey, we’d like to give you a contract to do some work for us. And this is how much money we’ll do,’” Neal said. “So I help vet those as well, to make sure that the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed and those sorts of things.”
According to UIndy 360, one of the top grant awards for the fiscal year was listed as $2,950,000 from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education for Non-STEM Dual Credit Credentialing. The grant will go towards providing dual credit credentials for Indiana educators through UIndy in K-12 schools. The credentialing will allow for high school instructors to help students earn college and high school credits simultaneously according to UIndy 360.
Students can learn more about grants and how they affect the courses they cover and jobs as research assistants by asking professors or members of certain grant-funded organizations, Neal said. According to Associate Professor of the Department of Psychological Sciences and Associate Director of the Honors College Kathryn Boucher, students who are working through assistantships for grant-funded research projects are financed through stipulations detailed in the grant application process.
“Grants, oftentimes, especially some of the larger ones, provide either stipends or the ability to offer more assistantships,” Boucher said. “They also provide positions and that way that students can work on something that’s actually related to their major, related to what they want to do post-graduation.”
According to Boucher, funding is justified in the application process as funders look for measurable impact in a research project as well as the rationale for specific support given through the amount listed in any available grants. Boucher said grant accounting services provided through the university allow time for faculty to outline costs needed for research that may be difficult to assign a price.
“There’s certain things that you can sort of ask for funding for. Some of it’s time for the faculty member, time for students to help,” Boucher said. “Some are expenses for the work, like if you have to buy things, or if you need to purchase technology or have services. And there’s also a certain amount in each grant that’s built in to help support the university in supporting you.”
Boucher is a recipient of a grant from the Raikes Foundation and said there are two types of awards that can be given within the Office of Grants. She said one is an internal grant and is applied to through UIndy where a small amount of funding can be allocated from the university. The other type of grant is external where awards are given from outside of the university and the application process varies depending on the organization offering the grant.
“Some of the bigger awards that UIndy has also gotten shows how we’re working to do really innovative things with teaching, and in doing collaborations across disciplines,” Boucher said.
Neal said the increase in awards was surprising given the fact that the amount increase was not distributed from any COVID-19-related grants. According to Neal, the activity directed towards research and faculty projects was interesting to discover within the last year with the pandemic having reduced campus in-person interactions.
“I think that since faculty have the support of their chairs and their deans all the way on up to the president’s office, to pursue external funding, . . . to do additional research and to create new and innovative projects, then I think that has a big role in making that happen,” Neal said.