Gifts, grants and contracts given to the UW System rose in the last fiscal year by $99.3 million, nearly a 30 percent increase. UW-Madison generated the most external income of all UW System institutions, accounting for 80 percent of the total.
Federal government sources generated $540 million (62.3 percent) of the total while $327.4 million (37.7 percent) came from nonfederal sources.
'This shows off Madison's ability to compete on a national level for grants that come from the federal government,' said Kevin Boatright, assistant vice president of UW System Communications. 'It seems to me that as for federal grants, UW-Madison will have a greater opportunity for federal funding, especially with its leadership role in stem-cell research.'
Often times, major gifts are given in support of a particular activity, Boatright said.
'It isn't just money that comes in and you can do with it what you wish,' he said. 'It has very definite strings attached so that whoever is making the gift has done with it what they want done with it.'
Quite a bit of private funding is in support of research, he said, and in fact, the university actually receives very little money from the state for this.
Neither Boatright nor John Torphy, vice chancellor of UW-Madison administration, thought the amount received through private donations, grants, and contracts would decrease in the near future as a result of any form of economic slowdown.
'[The numbers] don't go up every year but the major trend is up,' Torphy said.
'I always tell people to look at a range of years. Don't assume that just because we get $50 million more in one year means that's going to continue and just because another year we get $200 million less doesn't mean that that's a trend either.'
Boatright said large portions of the private funding came from capital that had been put away for specific purposes, on which the state of the economy would have less of an effect.
'I'm sure that the UW will be redoubling its [fundraising] efforts,' Boatright said. 'And at such a large university with so many friends and alumni it seems to me they won't have any trouble finding things that [potential donators] would want to fund.'
Fundraising is becoming more and more of a priority for chancellors, he said.
'This is true at the comprehensive campuses,' Boatright said. 'But it's even more true at the doctoral universities. ... I think [other UW System schools] are also learning a lot from UW-Madison about how to do effective fundraising among alumni, foundations and corporations.'
Boatright said many programs on campus depend largely on private funding.
While much of the increase was due to federal grants, a lot of it was also due to gifts from 'very generous alumni,' Boatright said, a situation that has historically been the case at UW-Madison.
'[Acquiring private funding] has been a strength of UW-Madison in a state with relatively few sources of federal funding,' he said.
The Business and Finance Committee of the UW System Board of Regents plans to discuss trends in gifts, grants and contracts at its Oct. 4 to 5 meeting.