NSF data again shines national spotlight on UL Lafayette


The National Science Foundation’s annual index of research and development spending contains a bevy of good news for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. 
According to NSF’s 2021 Higher Education Research and Development, or HERD, Survey, UL Lafayette:

  • Is, for the second consecutive time, the seventh-best university in the United States for research that’s funded through partnerships with business and industry. 
  • Is ranked 93rd among public research universities for R&D funding, maintaining its place among the nation’s top 100 public research universities. UL Lafayette achieved the status based on 2020 HERD data.
  • Secured $65 million in federal R&D funding, the most in University history. 
  • Is ranked 135th overall on the HERD Survey, placing it among the top 21% of the 647 universities the index includes.  

NSF released its 2021 rankings earlier this month. UL Lafayette’s showing is based on the record $181.4 million it expended on R&D during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021. That’s a 9.7% increase from the previous year’s $164 million total. 
UL Lafayette competes against other universities for federal and state government grants, and private sector contracts. It acts as a steward for the funds awarded to faculty and staff researchers. 
Between 2013 and 2021, the University marked more than $1 billion in total R&D spending, a milestone Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, celebrated during his annual State of the University address in August
The speech was the first since the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education designated UL Lafayette as R1, or a university with “very high research activity.”
Just 146 – 3% – of public and private universities in the United States have R1 status. 

“This money comes to us from state and federal funding agencies and through partnerships with business and industry because of the reputation this University has for consequential work that answers the greatest questions we face as a global community,” Savoie said at the time.

“Because these dollars have an effect that ripples beyond campus – into our region and into businesses and into the tax base – this ($1 billion) figure represents an infusion into the local economy that is extraordinary,” he added.
Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, vice president for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, said the 2021 HERD Survey data – and the milestones it contains for UL Lafayette – reflects “the passion of our faculty, research staff, and graduate students to invest their time and efforts into research and discovery as well as the administrative staff members throughout the University who support them.” 
“Our ability to continue to attract this level of funding – and to maintain such impressive growth year after year as reflected on the HERD Survey – points to the caliber of the world-class faculty on our team at UL Lafayette. The hard work of our researchers has enabled the University to demonstrate – and deepen – its commitment to ‘research for a reason,’” Kolluru said.