Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE – External research funding at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, increased to more than $175 million in fiscal year 2009, more than doubling last year’s total and setting an all-time high for the campus.

front-research-fundingThe funding, which comes from a wide variety of sources, including federal and state agencies as well as private research foundations, does not include any money received as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and was generated by the campus during a time of major budget cutbacks.

“Research funding is key to the success of any institution, and an increase of this magnitude in just one year is extremely rare and reflects the hard work of our faculty in generating successful funding proposals,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.

Total grants and contracts for 2009 were $178,713,213. That number is up from just over $87 million in 2008, reflecting a 105 percent increase over the last 12 months. That total does not include funding received by units such as the Institute of Agriculture or the Institute for Public Service that report directly to the UT system.

“Externally won research dollars make possible much of the work of the university, ensuring that our faculty continue to have vital resources to conduct research and undertake projects that enhance life for all Tennesseans,” said Brad Fenwick, vice chancellor for research at UT Knoxville. “In addition, this funding enhances educational opportunities for students and serves as a major economic driver in our area, creating new jobs and fueling the local economy.”

There were two grants for the year that totaled more than $10 million individually: a $16.25 million dollar grant to researchers in the College of Business Administration from the Air Force for improvements to their acquisition process and a $16 million grant from the National Science Foundation for the creation of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.

“Looking ahead, we are optimistic that the faculty will continue to take full advantage of grants which will further enhance our good work and bringing in this vital funding,” said Fenwick. “The role of external research grants and contracts only becomes more important as the university looks to budget constraints over the next two to three years.”

The Air Force grant helped spur the College of Business Administration to a jump of more than 7 times as much research funding in 2009 versus 2008. Other colleges with significant increases were the colleges of social work and nursing, each of which more than doubled their 2008 totals.

Research dollars are also up at UT Knoxville over the long term. Over the past five years, external funding has increased by more than a third, reflecting sustained growth in recent years.

Nearly every grant received by the campus includes either funds to hire dedicated research personnel or to purchase new equipment, which contributes to both the local tax base and job market. A recent study conducted in by UT’s Center for Business and Economic Research found that the campus’ overall economic impact on the state was more than $915 million.

2009 saw a marked increase in the number of overall research proposals submitted across the UT Knoxville campus, with a total of 1,471 – a 54 percent increase over 2008.

Detailed information on research funding at UT Knoxville, including breakdowns of funding by college and a listing of the top 20 funded projects on the campus for 2009 are available online at

More information about UT Knoxville research, including stories, multimedia features and an online magazine are available at

C O N T A C T :

Jay Mayfield, (865-974-9409,