With a congressional ban on federal earmarks, public universities across the country may begin to feel pressure as funding for research and projects begins to run dry.
Randi Thomas, director of institutional relations at Miami University, said the university would likely not be hurt by an earmark ban. He said because Miami does not rely heavily on funding from earmarks the decision would not have a dramatic impact.
“We don’t do traditional sorts of earmarks, we do things that federal funding already supports like roads,” Thomas said. “We try to get involved with things that bring money to the (Oxford) community.”
Earmarks are legislative provisions that direct federal funding toward specific projects, according to David Creamer, vice president of finance and business services.
“Typically, there would be requests made from congressmen or senators from Ohio that have interest to receive funding for a particular project,” he said.
Creamer said earmarks are based on funding research or projects will provide the university and state.
“(An earmark) will come through a number of our legislative representatives, and it usually gets into a bill,” he said. “Congress ultimately makes the final decision as to who receives a bill.”
Thomas said Miami rarely relies on such funding.
“Congressman Boehner does not do earmarks, so the impact on Miami is not like it would be at a university like Ohio State,” Thomas said.
Creamer agreed that an earmark ban would not affect Miami like it would a bigger university like The Ohio State University.
“Universities with high research agendas like Ohio State might receive in excess of $100 million from earmarks,” Creamer said. “We might have them, but not in excess of seven figures.”
Creamer said earmarks do play a role in funding research and laboratory equipment.
“Relative to most universities, we receive a modest number of earmarks,” Creamer said. “It’s not like (earmarks) are a core support that we need to continue something that we are already doing.”
Creamer said while a ban on earmarks would not cause any immediate consequences, it could negatively impact future research efforts.
“There will be some consequences because historically we would get something that would benefit research or another agenda,” he said. “Earmarks in the past have allowed certain scientific equipment to be purchased. Often it involved some sort of capital funding that we would not otherwise be able to undertake.”
Miami junior Sarah Breedlove is upset that certain research funding could be eliminated, but said she understands some of the problems associated with earmarks.
“Anytime funding decreases, it is never a good thing,” she said. “However, I understand that earmarks sometimes only serve the interest of a select few.”
One project that could be affected is the Scripps Gerontology Center, according to Jim Oris, associate dean of research and scholarship.
Oris said the center, which is dedicated to research on the aging population, could stand to lose funding because of the earmark ban.
“(The Scripps Gerontology Center) received a line item in the Ohio budget, and that money goes toward running the operation and funding research … that goes to help the state,” Oris said.
Despite possible funding issues, Oris said a ban on earmarks would likely not affect research at Miami.
“In my opinion, trying to improve labs for biology and the infrastructure portion could slow us down some,” he said. “But in terms of conducting research and getting work done in the scholarly community, it won’t affect us that much.”