I would like to communicate a decision regarding the availability of Hatch research funding for 2018. As a land grant institution, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences receives USDA formula/capacity funding (Hatch and McIntire-Stennis), designed to ensure that agricultural colleges remain strong partners in helping the USDA meet its mission of supporting agriculture and natural resource management. There is flexibility in how we choose to use these USDA funds. Unlike many of our institutional peers, we have generally used the majority of these funds to help support research projects selected through an internal peer-review process.
In recent years, however, CALS has elected to use a portion of its available capacity funds to help address a number of key budget challenges resulting from declines in state support (Fund 101) and indirect cost returns (Fund 150). These decisions were made in response to various College needs related to three critical priority areas:
- Protecting our academic units – to absorb fund 101 and 150 cuts, the College chose to minimize 101 cuts and maintain 150 distributions to departments, and disproportionately reduced 101 support for our Agricultural Research Stations.
- Investing in our research infrastructure – the College provided short-term support using Hatch funds to “soften” the large Agricultural Research Station 101 reduction and enable a transition to a reduced but more diversely supported budget. This provided time to allow planning for resource reallocation in an effort to maintain what I think we can all agree is a vital component of our research capability. In addition, we leveraged significant central campus support to upgrade several research facilities.
- Supporting our faculty – CALS used Hatch funding to deal with many recruitment and retention cases across virtually all academic units. In all cases, the formula funding helped us leverage considerable additional resources from central campus.
Because we used formula funds to help address these critical challenges, our formula funds have been significantly depleted. As a result, there will be no call for Hatch or McIntire-Stennis research proposals this year. In addition, we will not fund a Hatch capital exercise.
I am acutely aware of the ramifications of this decision and regret the disruption. I want to reassure you of two things. First, we will honor all commitments made up to this point, including Hatch components of startup packages for new faculty hires, including those searches underway. Secondly, this is a one-year suspension of our rather unique use of these funds in a peer-reviewed research proposal process. We will resume a call in 2018 for innovative research projects starting in 2019.
I thank you all for your efforts to advance the mission of our great College in these challenging times. I will keep you apprised of our progress as we move forward.
CALS Associate Dean for Research