Creating jobs with stimulus money
The stimulus funding has allowed for new hiring, creating the full-time equivalent of about 90 new jobs, Bernhard said. The positions range from full-time research professors to graduate assistants to undergraduates working a few hours a week in campus laboratories.
The 90 positions are a current snapshot for this financial quarter. The number of stimulus-related jobs is likely to increase in the next quarter as more stimulus funding arrives, then decrease at some point as the money is spent, Bernhard said.
“We are still watching the federal websites to see if other (stimulus) competitions will be announced. But we think most of them have run their course,” he said.
University leaders are mindful that the stimulus grants are taxpayers’ money intended for job creation and building infrastructure for the future, Bernhard said.
“The 90-some full-time equivalent jobs of various types created would not have existed here without these funds. The university has also been able to buy equipment that will support research programs, and jobs, in the future,” he said.
The timing of the stimulus funding was fortunate, Bernhard said. Notre Dame has been investing in major ways in recent years in its research programs — with $80 million in internal research funding grants and completion of the new Stinson-Remick Hall of Engineering, for example — and those investments helped the university better compete for the stimulus grants, he said.
The federal stimulus funds will have an accelerated effect on the university’s own research investment programs, he said.
Congress approved $21.5 billion in research and development spending as part of the $787 billion economic-stimulus package.
Public and private colleges and universities across the nation eagerly went after the grants, seeking to ramp up their research efforts and help build the nation’s work force during the recession.
Compared to Notre Dame’s $34.7 million in grants, Purdue University had 198 proposals funded with $130.3 million in stimulus money as of Sept. 3.
And Indiana University has had 180 proposals funded with $62.7 million in stimulus money, with an additional $16.7 million still expected. That brought IU’s total stimulus funding to $73.4 million as of July 31.
The temporary nature of the stimulus funding has created anxiety at some schools — particularly state institutions hard hit by budget cuts — about whether the new hires will be sustainable over the long term.
“We’ve been mindful of that in planning these things,” Bernhard said. For example, some graduate students provided jobs through stimulus funding will finish their degrees as the federal funding ends, then move on to new jobs elsewhere, he said.
The $70,000 grant awarded to ACE funded a program to train about 38 K-12 Catholic school educators from across the country to teach or administer English as a New Language programs. None of the teachers was from Indiana.
The funding allowed ACE to hire two part-time administrators and double the teaching load for several part-time faculty members.
Those ACE participants studied at Notre Dame for two weeks in summer 2009, earning six credits, then returned to their teaching jobs in their own communities. They completed the rest of their training online.
The teachers in that ACE training program were accepted as federal AmeriCorps workers, received a federal voucher to help cover the cost of their training and counted as 38 full-time equivalent jobs among the 90 documented by Notre Dame. The federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps approved counting the students as full-time jobs created.
The real benefit was the skills the teachers earned that will allow them to move into new positions, said John Staud, ACE senior director for pastoral formation and administration.
“I think often we don’t think about teaching new skills to existing workers as part of the stimulus. It allows them to keep their jobs or move into new positions. Not one of those teachers is out of work,” said Joyce Johnstone, director of program development for ACE.
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