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Vanderbilt maintains position among top 25 universities in the national competition for federal research dollars

Sep. 4, 2007, 3:03 PM

Vanderbilt University maintained its rank of 23rd in the nation in the total value of federal science and engineering research grants awarded to campus researchers, according to an annual report compiled by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

This is the fourth year in a row that the campus has placed among the top 25 universities in “Federal Obligations for Science & Engineering Research & Development,” the report that contains what is generally considered to be the most accurate figures on the distribution of federal S&E research and development dollars.

Vanderbilt broke into the top 25 in the 2004 report, jumping from 31st to 25th. The following year, the campus advanced to 24th and in 2006 moved up to 23rd, the position it has maintained in the 2007 report, which was published in August.

“It’s gratifying to see our faculty’s great ideas and hard work are paying off so well, bringing them the resources they need to pursue those ideas,” said Dennis Hall, associate provost for research and graduate education.

The ranking is based on reports filed by federal funding agencies, and is one of a number of such rankings the NSF prepares at the request of Congress. It is based on funding levels in fiscal year 2005, the latest year for which comprehensive statistics are available.

“Even though this particular ranking does not catch all of the federal funding Vanderbilt receives, it is a good indicator of our progress because nearly all of the funds this ranking does catch are awarded on the basis of quality and merit, by means of peer-reviewed competitive processes,” Hall said. This makes it an important yardstick for gauging the quality of university research.

The ranking shows that Vanderbilt is competitive with much larger research powerhouses such as the University of Southern California, ranked 21st, and 27th-ranked University of California, Berkeley.

In order to maintain its position, Vanderbilt had to increase its funding level by 7.7 percent ($20 million). At the same time, Case Western Reserve University jumped to 22nd from 26th and Pennsylvania State University (all campuses) dropped from 20th to 24th.

Hall attributes Vanderbilt’s steady rise to “careful and aggressive junior- and senior-faculty hiring” accompanied by “significant institutional investments” in research and associated infrastructure.

Media Contact: David F. Salisbury, (615) 343-6803