UH officials: Research separate

by Jim Parsons

Daily Cougar Staff

The disputes over analyses of the University of Rhode Island's budget study may leave some students wondering how the University of Houston's research is funded.

Indeed, with UH's continued emphasis on becoming a Carnegie I research university, undergraduates subsidizing research could be a serious issue here.

Fortunately, say UH officials, it is not.

"In fact, at UH, research supports undergraduates," said Arthur Vallas, UH's vice provost for research and graduate studies.

Vallas said UH research brings in such favorable returns that there is no discrepancy between the cost of maintaining research and the money research brings to the school.

Instead, he said UH is aiming to bring students in closer contact with the research going on here. It has become popular for undergraduate students to participate in research at American universities. At UH, they are offered the chance to become involved with various research programs, and Vallas said a personal goal of his is to get more undergraduates involved with those programs.

At some major research schools, such as MIT, undergraduates are conducting research for a salary or a class credit, said Julie Norris, a spokeswoman for MIT's research department.

Vallas did indicate that other universities, such as URI, might have a problem with managing a balance between federal research grants and research operation costs. "(URI) is certainly an institution that is engaged in research, but not at a very, very high level," he said. "It's very difficult for that institution, perhaps, to leverage their resources."

However, he said UH has been growing quickly over the past few years and has become skilled at leveraging its resources and costs. "In that case, our research is a direct contact and benefit to the students," he said.

April Burke, UH's legislative monitor in Washington, emphatically denied that UH undergraduates are supporting research. "I cannot stress this enough: We do not use tuition dollars to subsidize research costs," she said.

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