Statement to Board of Trustees on FY2020 External Grant Funding and Private Philanthropy


Thursday, August 13, 2020


This afternoon, I have the pleasure of making a number of announcements that once again confirm Indiana University’s status as one of the leading public research universities in the world. The figures I will share are a powerful measure of how Indiana University contributes extensively to a prosperous and innovative Indiana.

In recent years, I have reported a number of times to the board that Indiana University had received private philanthropy gifts and external research awards which, combined, totaled nearly a billion dollars. This year, I am very pleased to report that Indiana University has achieved another record in these areas. IU’s record research and philanthropic funding in fiscal year 2020 exceeded $1 billion for the first time in the university’s history, totaling $1.15 billion.

This remarkable figure once again underscores the fact that Indiana University truly is the state’s research powerhouse.

These remarkable figures are testament to the quality of the outstanding research being conducted by our faculty, staff and students—research that expands knowledge, drives innovation, creates new industries and jobs, spurs economic growth, and supports a high standard of living. And these figures also reflect the long-standing generosity of tens of thousands of Indiana University’s alumni and friends, based on the university’s historic reputation for excellence in its first two centuries. Collectively, this funding directly and indirectly also helps to support thousands of jobs in the state of Indiana.

External funding for research and other activities

First, I am delighted to report that, in fiscal year 2020, IU researchers received a record $854 million in external funding for research and other activities. This is the highest total of external grant funding obtained by any research university in the state during the last fiscal year and the highest annual total—by far—in IU history.

This year’s figure represents an increase of more than 25 percent over last year’s total of $680.2 million, which was the previous IU record.

The total includes $418 million in federal grants and contracts, including an IU record of $245.7 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, the major federal government source of support for health sciences research in the United States.

It also includes $48.7 million in awards from the National Science Foundation, and $81 million in sponsored funding from industry.

This year’s total also includes a total of $344.3 million in non-governmental grants, which is also an IU record and which represents an increase of more than 65 percent over last year’s record of $208.3 million. This record total in non-governmental grants was made possible, in part, by a one-time gift of $145 million from our vital partners at IU Health—for which we are enormously grateful. This will support the new medical treatment and research complex in Indianapolis.

This year’s record figure is all the more noteworthy in light of the extraordinary circumstances under which IU researchers have worked during the last several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And, as I have said in past years, it is also noteworthy given the increasingly competitive environment that has faced researchers across the country. The demand for research funding has steadily increased and continues even more to exceed the supply.

The enormous success Indiana University faculty have had in competing for sponsored awards is a testament to the quality of our faculty and their work. IU’s outstanding faculty are engaged in a wide range of research and scholarship that results in the generation of innovative new ideas, new intellectual works, and discoveries that cure disease, protect our environment, help secure our nation, grow the economy, and advance art and culture in our communities.

This success also points to the impact of the recruitment of numerous high-quality and productive faculty members in recent years.

And we should not forget the vital importance of all of the outstanding staff members whose excellent work has an enormous impact on these efforts.

I also want to express Indiana University’s most grateful thanks to the members of Indiana’s Congressional delegation, with whom we continue to work closely, for their support for IU and for higher education research more broadly in the various federal stimulus bills, in particular the CARES Act.

Total private philanthropy 

Of course, private philanthropy—expressed by two centuries of advocacy, giving, and service by IU alumni and friends—has provided the margin of excellence at Indiana University, and has allowed the university to realize its full potential to improve lives.

I am very pleased to announce today, that In Fiscal Year 2020, IU received $296.4 million in total private individual and institutional philanthropy—the second highest total in IU history. This represents an increase of more than 24 percent in philanthropic support over the previous year, and it reflects the support of more than 97,600 IU alumni and friends.

On behalf of the university, I want to express our most sincere thanks to all of the alumni, friends, parents, companies, foundations and other organizations that support IU. Private philanthropy serves as one of the great pillars of the American system of higher education, making it the greatest in the world. This year’s generous gifts from Indiana University’s alumni and friends support the university’s relentless progress toward excellence in education and research. And this generous support is all the more noteworthy in light of the deep global economic recession that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These gifts, of course, will be used to support the goals of the Bicentennial Campaign: to enable student success; to create the next generation of student leaders; to discover innovations that change the way we live; and to create a healthier state, nation, and world. They will help support breakthroughs in research. They will fund endowed chairs and professorships that allow us to recruit and retain our most productive faculty. They will help to create a rich educational experience for IU students across the state, and they are fundamental to our efforts to keep an IU education affordable and within reach of deserving students.


I want to commend all those who helped make possible the record achievements in sponsored awards and private philanthropy—including our outstanding research faculty, the research administration staff, the many students—at both the graduate and undergraduate levels—who are engaged in research on IU’s campuses, and I want to sincerely thank the university’s tens of thousands of generous donors.

As we begin Indiana University’s third century of service, our mission must be—as it has always been—to confirm our traditions of excellence in our fundamental missions of education, research, and service, and by so doing, ensure that Indiana University will be a leader among the great universities of the 21st century.

With the generous support of alumni and friends, and with the support of funding agencies that recognize and support the value of IU research, Indiana University will continue to be both entrepreneurial and collaborative in pursuing this vision, and in generating the resources to accomplish it as it begins its third century of service.

And now, I am pleased to invite Distinguished Professor Fred Cate, Indiana University’s vice president for research, and Dan Smith, president and CEO of the IU Foundation and holder of the Clare Barker Endowed Chair in the Kelley School of Business, to share more details on these new records.