Road map to $300 million in sponsored awards
By Jack Beasley, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-5458
USC just reported a record $238 million in externally sponsored awards for 2012, and the goal is to break $300 million in the next five years. The Office of the Vice President for Research has spent the past year developing a strategic plan not only to make that happen, but also to promote research and scholarly activity across all disciplines at the university.
“Our faculty members are doing amazing research in diverse areas, especially in energy, health and environmental sciences,” said Prakash Nagarkatti, USC’s vice president for research.
“We need to have a comprehensive approach, not only to further enhance research across all colleges, but also to maintain our status as a Carnegie Foundation institution with ‘very high research activity’ and reach our ambitious goal of $300 million in external sponsored awards by 2017,” he said.
The five-year strategic plan that his office crafted, which will further engage undergraduates, graduate students and faculty to enhance research and scholarly activity throughout the university, is now available online.
The 10-point plan includes broad goals, such as promoting interdisciplinary research and developing and promoting integrated undergraduate and graduate programs. With each of the 10 goals, the plan lays out specific initiatives and programs, some of which are already off and running, such as the ASPIRE program, an internal funding mechanism for promoting faculty research in interdisciplinary areas.
“To reach the $300 million mark, we need to compete nationally for large Centers of Research Excellence that bring in tens of millions of dollars, and the ASPIRE program is aimed at accomplishing that,” Nagarkatti said. “Such funding also brings in additional money to the university in the form of indirect costs that help develop advanced infrastructure and provide additional resources to all colleges.”
Another example of implementing the goals is the SPARC graduate research program, in which graduate students in all disciplines can write a proposal to earn funding for their work. The SPARC program offers both an opportunity to bolster research funding as well as the experience of preparing a competitive grant proposal, which is invaluable for young researchers.
The Office of the Vice President for Research also initiated a new online journal for undergraduate student research, called Caravel.This journal will accept research and creative work formatted as audio files, video files, images and traditional papers.
Creating a five-year plan that addressed the needs of diverse faculty required crowdsourcing from across the university.
“Putting this plan together was the result of nearly a year of input from the Institutional Research Advisory Board (IRAB), meetings with individual department faculty across USC and deans, and a research retreat held in the spring,” Nagarkatti said. “We listened to the needs of faculty from all disciplines and our system campuses, and this plan addresses those needs with an eye toward the future.”
To download a PDF of the full plan, click here.