Thursday, July 21, 2005

A message from the President

A message from the President:

To President's Cabinet and Board of Deans

In recent weeks, there have been several iterations between the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) regarding the University's application for funding to build a Regional Biocontainment Laboratory. NIAID has asked a number of questions about the grant proposal and sought some additional information. Among the questions was whether the University has identified sources for the additional funding--approximately $35 million--required to match the proposed $25 million grant. NAIAD has asked for our response by July 23.

As many of you know, the University applied for this grant because of our remarkable strengths in infectious disease research. Last year, we were awarded a $50 million grant by NAIAD to establish a Regional Center of Excellence in infectious disease research. Our faculty are among the best in the nation in this field, and building a facility to house this, and possibly additional research, would clearly enhance our capabilities in this area. A number of important issues were raised over the safety, security and location of such a facility, and as you also know, we set about to address these issues and assure ourselves that if the project did move forward, we would be able to build a safe and secure facility in an appropriate location.

While these matters have occupied our attention, Paul Ramsey and David Thorud have also been trying to identify potential sources for the additional $35 million required to build the facility. Our efforts to identify such funding ultimately have proved fruitless, and we will be informing the NAIAD and the Board of Regents this week that we do not have the necessary funds to proceed with the project. In all likelihood, this will ensure that the grant will not be awarded.

A great deal of excellent work by many people at the Univerity has gone into this project, and we are grateful to them for their effort. Regardless of any eventual siting decision that might have emerged, this experience points up the critical need for high quality research space at the University and the paucity of resources available to meet the needs. We will no doubt encounter other such challenges in the future. We need to find ways to meet these funding challenges if we are to maintain our position as one of the nation's leading research universities.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Emmert