Tuesday, October 13, 2020

We have received several questions related to the recent update on the F&A revenue model. Below are responses to some of those questions, and we will continue to add to this list as we move forward through this process.

Why was the COE F&A revenue model changed?

At Iowa, all collegiate units, except the College of Engineering, follow a model where in a portion of the F&A returns are held at the university level to cover the overhead of university operations. Engineering will now be brought into alignment with this same model over a period of time and contribute to university operations in the same way as every other college on campus. 

These funds will be used to promote research efforts across the institution, including research conducted in the Engineering research centers. This is the same model of F&A research funding that is used by our peers in the Big Ten and universities across the country. 

What impact will this change have on the centers?

Our engineering centers and institutes have been responsible for using F&A to pay for certain expenses like utilities, facility improvements, and computer software as well as equipment, graduate student tuition, and engineering services. While the centers will no longer be receiving the same level of F&A returns, the centers will also no longer be required to pay for the same level of expenses.

The goal is to unburden the centers of these accounting transactions and administrative responsibilities—which should rightly be shouldered by the college and university—so they are able to focus exclusively on research activities. There is no intention to have the centers accrue deficits because of these accounting changes.  In fact, this move creates opportunities to attract interdisciplinary research awards and large center grants which is an area of focus for the university.

Additionally, many of the facilities in use by the centers will require significant deferred maintenance improvements over the next decade which will now be funded by the university similar to all other academic and research facilities.

What will be the impact of the changes on staffing in the centers?

The college continues to put its people first.  This is an opportunity for the center directors to work closely with university and college leadership to identify any unintended consequences due to this change and look strategically at our research enterprise. At this point there are no anticipated layoffs or furloughs. 

How will the process of this F&A change move forward?

The university administration and engineering administration are working together with each center director to determine the optimal transition period for each unit. Center leaders have met with UI administration and college leadership to discuss how to move forward with this transition. This process is expected to evolve over the course of the academic year with a goal of minimal disruption to research center activities.