Government shutdown temporarily leaves university footing the bill for research

Kansas State professor Stacy Hutchinson runs her own aquaponics system in the basement of Seaton Hall. The federal funding for research at K-State remains an hold due to the government shutdown, but the institution can compensate the costs for now. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

As the United States government remains shutdown, universities across the country, including Kansas State, are beginning to face issues in funding for their research divisions.

The university started covering costs of on-going research efforts that will be paid back once grants, scholarships and other types of government funding are restored.

“The government shutdown adversely affects research at Kansas State University,” an email statement from the office of the Peter Dorhout, vice president for research, said. “In the short term, those effects are minimal, but they will worsen as the shutdown lengthens.

“In the short term, we have no concerns about available funds from grants that have been awarded. Our institution is able to front the cash flow, and we are closely monitoring expenditures and available guidance from agencies.”

If the government remains shutdown for an extended amount of time, the university staff can see a “wide spread snowballing effect” that could ultimately jeopardize the paychecks of those staff who are being funded from government funds or stipends, the statement continued. This could also affect graduate and undergraduate students who work under university researchers.

Furthermore, some university researchers have been told to stop working during the government shutdown.

“The federal government partial shutdown is already affecting K-State in multiple ways,” Beth Montelone, associate vice president for research, said. “For example, there are researchers whose official appointments are with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who have offices, research spaces and adjunct appointments at K-State who are not allowed to work. Their research is not being done and they cannot participate in graduate student advising if they serve on graduate committees.”

Last Friday, Dorhout, Montelone and Paul Lowe, associate vice president for research and director of PreAward Services, released a special alert to K-State researchers and staff saying they are monitoring the effects of the shutdown and the challenges it presents.

“Many researchers are largely unaffected by the shutdown, but the situation remains fluid. Our office will continue to track developments and will issue additional guidance as necessary,” the statement said.

Updates on the status of K-State researchers and research staff during the shutdown will be announced through Research Weekly, the K-State research newsletter, and the daily K-State Today email announcements.