Rowan University raised a total of $28.8 million last year for sponsored research, programs, and projects, school administrators told its board of trustees this week.
In an annual report, Rowan touted the 2013-14 number, an increase of 9.73 percent over the year before.
That number includes the School of Osteopathic Medicine, which Rowan absorbed from the now-defunct University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. That school's research accounted for more than $11 million last year. Of the university's homegrown units, including the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and its main Glassboro campus, external funding increased 41 percent, to $17.8 million, from $12.6 million.
In the 2010-11 year, Rowan received $5.6 million in funding.
Last year's total amount includes sponsored research for faculty and students, construction and infrastructure projects funded by the state, and academic programs such as the Educational Opportunity Fund program for low-income and first-generation college students.
Ali A. Houshmand, Rowan's president, has set a goal of receiving $100 million in external funding each year by 2023, part of a 10-year growth plan that also includes doubling enrollment and increasing the operating budget to $1 billion, from $400 million. The state designated Rowan a research institution in 2013, giving the university an expanded mission.
Half of Rowan's current external funding comes from the state, with federal funding making up an additional third. Other sources, such as private industry and nonprofit organizations, account for 16 percent of external funding.
Houshmand has said that a bulk of his funding as an engineering professor at the University of Cincinnati came from private industry, which was looked down upon in a traditional research university that prized federal grants from sources such as the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. His vision for Rowan includes close ties with the private sector, though he said he also is proud of news that funding from the NIH increased 35 percent last year.
Houshmand's lieutenant on the research front, Shreekanth Mandayam, said in an interview that private funding would become increasingly important as public budget crises shrink the available funding pools.
"The snob value is there for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, you know?" said Mandayam, Rowan's vice president for research. But, he said, funding is decreasing nationally from those sources.
"For us to be competitive, we definitely have to concentrate on the private sector, and essentially drive ideas into the marketplace," he said. "Blue sky research is important, but that will not be our mission. Our mission: Applied research, and things that transition very quickly from a laboratory into the market. And that's where partnership with private industry is critical for us, and so we at Rowan in fact encourage and foster connections with private industry. I'm not belittling NSF or NIH, those are still very valuable and very important funding sources, but private industry funding is not counted against here."
Funding from the NIH and NSF accounted for more than a third of the university's federal funding last year.
"I think a diverse research portfolio with a variety of sponsors is ideal, because we're reaching out to government funding, state funding, industry partners, so I think we'd really like a wide portfolio," said Stephanie Lezotte, the director of Rowan's Office of Sponsored Programs.
Last year's state funding included a large boost from the Higher Education Facilities Authority. That money, from a $1.3 billion pot anchored by a $750 million bond referendum approved by voters in fall 2012, will go toward campus construction and infrastructure upgrades. Another major funding source, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education ("New Jersey Higher Education"), is set aside for programs such as the Educational Opportunity Fund program for low-income, first-generation college students, and the C.H.A.M.P. and GEAR UP programs for Camden schoolchildren.