Faculty propel COE to external funding record

The College of Education's HEDCO Building at night

The history of research excellence at the UO College of Education goes back decades, but there’s never been a year like 2015-16.

College faculty received funding from 95 research grants and contracts during the past fiscal year totaling $42.8 million — a 30 percent increase from last year and a new single-year record for external funding. This significant increase bucks the national trend of declining grant funding experienced by many schools and colleges, owing to tight state and federal funding.

The research grants and contracts will fund a range of activities, including testing new interventions to help kindergarten children learn math, providing technical assistance to more than 23,000 schools nationwide, and developing substance abuse interventions.

Other grant funding provides training and tuition support for masters and doctoral students. Current students are focusing on education themes such as interventions for children with autism, improving education for low-income students with disabilities and implementing evidence-based practices in schools.

A third focus of College of Education grants and contracts is community services and outreach. One example is a contract to help more than 1,300 children with developmental delays or disabilities each year.

The majority of grant and contract funding for the college comes from federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institutes of Health. But funding also comes from international sources, state and local governments, nonprofits, and the private sector.

“We are very fortunate to have amazing community partners to collaborate with in our research and outreach activities,” said Dianna Carrizales-Engelmann, director of administration at the college. “Having these partnerships has helped us successfully secure a wide variety of local, state and national supports for the development and testing of new educational programs and interventions, all of which are designed to help children and families that need them most.”

While much of the funding success builds upon the research of established faculty, new faculty hired in in the past year were highly successful, receiving more than $3 million in grants and contracts this year alone.

Leslie Leve is the associate dean for research and faculty development and has analyzed the annual numbers in depth.

“I think we’ve been very smart about hiring new faculty who are exemplary in their ability to integrate the research and academic missions of the COE,” she said. “Our students benefit by hearing about the newest education-based research in the courses they take, while simultaneously having opportunities to get involved in on-the-ground ways with some of our research projects. Adding new faculty lines will continue to be important as we respond to President Schill’s priorities for the UO.”

Apart from added prestige and visibility of the grants and contracts, another real benefit is that well-funded research helps the college reach more people. One salient example is Positive Behavior Intervention Supports, which works to improve the discipline and behavior support practices in schools.

Last year alone, external funding created support for more than 11.5 million students nationwide. Likewise, this past year some 1 million students and 100,000 teachers actively used easyCBM, another research and assessment tool developed by education faculty.

“I continue to be astonished at the impact of our work and the commitment and productivity of our faculty, particularly new hires,” said Randy Kamphaus, dean of the college. “Our success in a challenging funding environment tells us that the need for data-driven, implementable solutions for children, schools and families has never been greater.”

By Cody Pinkston, College of Education