University of the Pacific secured 62 grants from federal, state and county agencies totaling more than $36 million—one of the best years for government grants in school history.
The dramatic increase in fiscal year 2023—double the amount awarded to Pacific in 2022—was largely driven by three of the university’s largest grants, which include $6 million for the School of Health Sciences to expand the social work program, $5.6 million for Benerd College to support mental health services in K-12 schools and $5 million to McGeorge School of Law to improve mental health services in California. This was the best year for grants at Pacific in 15 years.
“This is a reflection of the exceptional work our faculty are doing to address pressing issues,” said David Ojcius, assistant provost for research and scholarship. “These grants will have a significant impact on the community.”
The grant for the social work program will allow it to expand to 100 students over the next five years. A 2018 report from the Healthforce Center at UCSF found the San Joaquin Valley has the lowest ratio of social workers per capita than any other region in California.
Pacific received the largest grant among the 23 universities to receive funding from the California Department of Health Care Access and Information.
The grant obtained by Benerd College from the U.S. Department of Education will help meet the need for mental health services in area schools. Graduate students in the school’s counseling and school psychology programs will work directly with students in high-need schools.
“It’s a need that has been identified for a long-time in the San Joaquin Valley and we have a real shortage. This is going to be a fantastic way for us to grow our own pipeline,” said Benerd College Dean Patricia Campbell.
The McGeorge School of Law will also help improve mental health services with its grant from the state’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. Public policy faculty will be helping local governments make transformative changes to their mental health services.
Several faculty members have also obtained substantial funding for impactful research, including prestigious grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy Professor Mamoun Alhamadsheh was awarded $1.7 million to research antidotes for opioid overdoses. The grant is highly competitive with only 10-15% of applications submitted to the NIH typically funded.
Other funding will help professors combat mosquito-borne diseases and better understand galaxy formation.
“In addition to supporting research, these grants provide incredible opportunities for our students,” Ojcius said. “They are involved in all of these projects, which gives them invaluable hands-on experience.”
Some of the funding will provide financial support to students, including the grant obtained by Benerd College. “The beauty of the grant we received is that it’s going to cover students’ tuition, so they don’t have debt hanging over their heads,” Campbell said.
Pacific’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has launched several initiatives to encourage more faculty to apply for external grants. For example, funding was recently made available for faculty working on interdisciplinary research involving at least two faculty members from different disciplines and departments. At the end of the two-year funding, faculty are required to apply for external funding to continue their research.
The office has also increased workshops on applying for grants and began a mini-lecture series called “What’s My Research?” in 2022. Two faculty members present a short presentation on their research areas once a month to allow different departments to see what others are working on.
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