Appendix K



Overview of the Facilities and Administrative Rate Distribution by Colleges, Administrative Units, and Commonwealth Campuses


The purpose of this informational report is to provide an overview of Penn State University’s Facilities and Administrative Rate (F&A Rate) distribution by Colleges, Administrative Units and Commonwealth Campuses. The F&A Rate is used to reimburse the University for Costs to support sponsored research. Part of these F&A funds charged by PSU’s administration is distributed to units across all the commonwealth campuses. The focus of this informational report is to provide an overview of how administrative units (colleges, administration units, campuses) further redistribute these funds recovered from PSU’s central administration.

The following information represents the distribution of the research incentive funds (RIF).  RIF represents 12% of the funds recovered centrally through the application of the University’s facilities and administrative rate(s) (F&A) to sponsored awards.  This 12% is distributed from central to the administrative areas.  Below is the detail on how the funding is distributed by each administrative area who received RIF – the percentage retained by the Dean (or Chancellor/Executive), the amount distributed to the Department and the amount distributed to the faculty and any distributed for other purposes.

This information was first reported to the Faculty Senate in an Informational Report on April 28, 2015.  The University Planning Committee considered it important to update this information and report every two years.  In the current report, additional information was added describing how the units use the resources retained by the dean and how faculty are informed of the availability of research incentive funds.

UP Academic Colleges

CollegeRetained by
Directly to
Used for
Additional Information
Agricultural Sciences17%83%--Of the RIF returned to the departments;
some retain all of the RIF at the departmental level
with nothing going to PI, some keep anywhere
from 50% to 33% and return the balance to the PI,
some departments do not retain any RIF for
departmental use and give 100% back to PI.
Arts & Architecture50%-50%--
Business (Smeal)--100%--
Communictions **100%----
Earth & Mineral Sciences17%83%--Departments and institutes which do not return
all of their RIF to faculty typically use those
funds for cost share on proposals, new faculty startup
packages, equipment purchases for research, and
in some cases support of research administration staff.
Education75%-25%-75% retained by the Dean, but the Associate Dean for
Research distributes some of this funding back to
Departments. The allocation is based on their research
levels to be used to support research initiatives within the
department. The breakdown is below:
Level 1: Total RIF of PI’s in dept. below $10,000: $5,000
Level 2: Total RIF of PI’s in dept. above $10,000: $ 10,000
Level 3: Total RIF of PI’s in dept. above $30,000: $15,000
Engineering17%83%*-*Departments reallocate 25 - 50% of their portion to faculty
Health & Human
50%50%--Dean's % subsidizes the College Research Office with 5% retained for Bad Debt; large research generating departments reallocate their portion to faculty.
Law100%---Dean and Department same for the Dickinson School of Law and the School of International Affairs
Liberal ArtsApprox. 60%-Approx. 40%-Awards given to faculty based on formula developed in the college (see below). Balance is retained by the Associate Dean for Research to fund new grant initiatives
Nursing**--50%50%College of Health and Human Development keeps 6 % and sends The College of Nursing 6%. Of the 6% , 50% goes to the PI and 50% goes to support the college research administration office.
Science (Eberly)17%83%--All Departments in the ECoS return a portion of the F&A to the faculty. Typically, 50% goes to faculty who generated the F&A and 50% stays in the Department.

UP Administrative Units

UnitRetained by
to Faculty
Used for
Additional Information
Graduate School-100%--Office of Graduate Educational Equity Programs uses all
of funds for graduate diversity recruitment initiatives.
University Libraries100%----
VP Research **-100%--Departments reallocate their portion to faculty
Outreach **-100%--Directors of units have discretion on funds
World Campus-100%--Directors of units have discretion on funds


(NOTE: Most campuses do not have departments, so DEPT is used to represent DAA or Assoc. Dean)

CampusRetained by
to Faculty
Used for
Additional Information
Abington-50%50%-50% Associate Dean used for faculty
research initiatives (no departments)
Berks-55%45%-55% Retained by Director of Academic Affairs
Brandywine-100%--Retained by Director of Academic Affairs
Fayette100%---Retained by Chief Academic Officer who
supports faculty travel and research
Great Valley-100%--Retained and managed by the Director
of Academic Affairs
Greater Allegheny **-100%--Retained by Director of Academic Affairs,
who supports faculty travel and research
Hazleton-100%--Retained by Director of Academic Affairs,
supports faculty travel and research
Harrisburg50%50%--Dept 50% - Split evenly between five academic
schools Other 50% - Retained by Associate Dean
for Research for internal research grants
Lehigh Valley **15%-85%--
Medicine15%-variable-See footnote a.
Mont Alto-100%--Retained by Director of Academic Affairs
New Kensington **-100%--Retained by Director of Academic Affairs, who supports faculty travel and research
Wilkes Barre **-100%--Retained by Director of Academic Affairs, supports faculty travel and research
Worthington Scranton-100%--Retained by Director of Academic Affairs, supports faculty travel and research
York **-100%--Retained by Director of Academic Affairs- Individual faculty may submit a request to DAA to receive up to 50% of the funds.


** College/Unit/Campuses marked with an asterisk show data from 2015.  New information was not provided from these units.

How are the Resources Used by the College?  Impact of Resources

UP Academic Colleges

Agricultural Sciences:   The RIF retained by the college is reinvested into faculty research activities, especially those activities that incentivize collaborative research.

Arts & Architecture:  One innovative use of funds are for seed projects in the Arts & Design Research Incubator, which has as its goal the facilitation of high impact, interdisciplinary arts research projects that have a high probability of attracting external funding and national/international visibility.  This has been highly successful.

Education:  Funds coming to the Associate Dean are spent on research office operations and research infrastructure (travel, computers, methodological consultation for researchers, faculty research office equipment; 6%), research initiation grants to faculty members to seed to new projects (30%), start-up research funds for new faculty (32%), and support for departments (32%).

EMS:  The College reserves 5% of the RIF for addition to our “RIF Premium” account, and an additional 12% of the RIF for use in supporting research (more below).  Hence, the College retains 17% of the RIF returned annually to the College.  We have always taken an assertive approach to cost sharing new initiatives, particularly those which represent new research capacity and collaborative efforts with other colleges, institutes, and centers. Our participation in co-funding purchase and installation of many state of the art instruments in a variety of Institutes across campus is well known; some recent examples include:

  • Micro CT scanner in the Center for Quantitative Imaging
  • Transmission electron microscopes purchase in Materials Research Institute
  • Multiple Collector Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometer (MC-ICP-MS) for Multidisciplinary Biogeochemical Research
  • 2D Crystal Consortium – Materials Innovation Platform (2DCC-MIP)
  • Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D)

Likewise, we have used our RIF to support numerous Centers, activities, and consortium memberships which benefit the broader Penn State community overall, e.g.:

  • STEM Graduate Fall Openhouse
  • Center for Microbiome Research
  • Polar Ice Center
  • Shale Alliance of Energy Research (SAfER-PA)
  • Research Partnership for Securing Energy for America (RPSEA)
  • Annual support for the Office of Government Affairs

Engineering:  The College invests its RIF in competitive grants (e.g.. Interdisciplinary Seed Grants, ENGINE, Equipment, Strategic Thrust Area Tems); faculty development (e.g., CAREER Workshops); and travel funds.  These grants have led to new research collaborations, follow-on funding from external sponsors (successful proposals), and products around which companies have been formed.  Departments generally use their funds to support maintenance, equipment, travel, and new initiatives. In an environment of exceedingly tight budgets, they are often used to support the general activities of the department.  Any RIF distributed to Faculty is via Departments. The portion varies by department, typically 25-50% of the departmental allocation.  Faculty members generally use their funds to support research in the form of travel, students, and supplies.

HHD:  Funds used e.g., for student and faculty travel, research equipment purchases, maintenance contracts, other purchases that benefit the faculty as a whole, support of research initiatives that are identified by an advisory board (intended to demonstrate to predominately business-oriented and not research-oriented stakeholders the value of research, particularly applied)

IST:  Funds retained by the College are used to support research activities within the college.

Law:  Funds are used to support the faculty and student activities as a whole.

Liberal Arts:  Recognition Awards are given following College policy: The award amount is computed as 8% of the revenues generated by a grant in the form of (a) indirect cost recovery that comes to the College (note: the College recovers 12% of indirect costs when they are charged at a rate in excess of 15%), (b) academic year salaries for faculty in Liberal Arts, and (c) academic year stipends for graduate students in Liberal Arts. The cap for the award for any grant is set at $15,000; there is no cap on the number of recognition awards a faculty member may receive; competitive continuation awards are considered as separate from the initial grant.

Science:  The ECoS uses the F&A that it retains on matching funds for grants that require a mandatory match. Department uses are varied.

UP Administrative Units

Libraries:  Reallocated in the form of micro grants to Libraries faculty & staff – this leads to innovation and impact as the micro grant program is designed to support small projects that foster innovation in support of Libraries strategic initiatives


Abington: Funds are used for research initiatives as needed.  In FY16, F&A funds were only used to support faculty travel.

Altoona:  Funds retained by the College are generally used for potential cost-sharing or other innovative research-related activities/costs (including undergraduate research).

Behrend: 100% used to support student undergraduate research college-wide; students work with faculty mentors to support research projects, travel, and regional conference participation.  College funded $20,000 in student travel; $20,00 to support undergraduate research conference; and $30,000 to partially support 151 student projects including 221 students and 104 faculty members.

Berks: 45% is distributed to the PI; 35%  Academic Affairs to help support Yearly Grants Training/Workshop; 20%  Academic Affairs to help support Berks research administrative office

Brandywine:  Funds are used to provide seed funding for new grants and possibly support faculty development.

Dubois:  Funds are used to support faculty research and research travel.

Fayette:  Retained by the Chief Academic Officer who supports faculty travel and research

Great Valley:  The chancellor, who is also the Director of Academic Affairs (DAA), manages the distribution of RIF, which funds faculty initiatives in excess of the planned budget. It typically will fund additional travel requests, though recently one of our faculty members was involved in developing the first MOOC at PSU and requested campus funding to support this effort; RIF was used.

Harrisburg: Retained by Associate Dean for Research for internal research grants

Hazelton:  The monies become part of the general fund for faculty travel.

Medicine:  The resources are used to support college research and education activities.  Funds equivalent to 15% of the total F&A generated by a faculty member are placed in the Dean’s Research Incentive Fund (RIF). The incentive component of the faculty member’s salary is derived from the RIF.   Once 25% effort is obtained from extramural sources and a minimum of $25K is generated in F&A, a faculty member can participate in the research incentive plan.  The amount of the incentive component is based on the amount of F&A generated by a faculty member’s research funding and the percentage of their effort assigned to extramural support.    For faculty members providing extramural support for 50% of their effort, one-half of the remaining RIF funds not used for salary compensation will be placed in the faculty member’s professional development fund. The remaining funds will be used at the discretion of the chair.

How is the Information Disseminated to Faculty in the College?

UP Academic Colleges

Agricultural Sciences: A request for proposals is distributed to faculty for the Strategic Networks Initiative Program

Arts & Architecture:  Faculty are informed when we get our annual RIF allocation that 50% is available to them.  An open call for new projects in the Arts & Design Research Incubator is announced to faculty.  The announcement is every other year for a two year term as an embedded faculty member in the ADRI.

Education:  Information regarding the uses of College of Education is posted with annual updates on the College website and presented each year to the College Faculty Council by the Dean.

EMS:  The College distributes RIF funds to the departments and institutes immediately upon receipt from Central.  Distribution of funds and dissemination of this information to faculty is at the discretion of the head of the department or institute.

Engineering: Information about how the College distributes and spends its RIF is disseminated through the department heads and directly to faculty members.

HHD: through the Executive Committee by the Dean and FO.

Law:  No information on these fund in particular is distributed.

Liberal Arts:  Faculty are notified of the RIF return policy, called “recognition award”, at the new faculty orientation.

Science:  Each Department announces the distribution when the faculty distribution is announced, typically in the autumn and typically via email.

UP Administrative Units

Libraries:  An informational page about the micro grant program on the Library intranet, that only library faculty and staff can access.


Abington:  An email is sent to the faculty who receive RIF funds indicating the amount given to the faculty member and availability of travel support.

Behrend:    Information disseminated as it is expensed and school directors get copies of end- of-year summary

Great Valley:  Faculty are not alerted to the RIF, due to it not being much funding.

Harrisburg: Internal research grant rounds are conveyed to the faculty at meetings organized by the Dean’s Office, through emails to the entire list serve and also through school directors.  The Associate Dean of Research and Outreach also presents information at the new faculty orientation on campus.  There is one call for internal research grants each semester.

Hazelton:  We do not communicate with faculty directly about these funds.  The monies become part of the general fund for faculty travel.  The general fund is communicated in numerous venues and faculty use the funds each year.

Medicine:  Information about the overall process is documented online in the Academic Compensation Plan.  The Controller’s office distributes faculty member’s calculated research incentive.  Any remaining departmental RIF funds available would be communicated to the faculty.

Discussion and Conclusion

This information is useful for both faculty and unit administrators. This report aims to inform how the unit level distribution works in all units. This report also lists what college funds might be available for faculty activities.  The main highlight of this report is that the distribution process is varied, and likely determined by several factors specific to each unit. Future efforts could further look into the determination of RIF distribution, and the impact of these varied approaches.  It is suggested that this report be updated and reported every two years.


  • James Adair
  • Kevin Cockroft
  • Peter Eberle
  • David Gray
  • Hengameh Hosseini
  • Nicholas Jones
  • Rodney Kirsch
  • Binh Le
  • David Lieb
  • Frantisek Marko
  • John Marsh
  • John Messner
  • Laura Pauley, Chair
  • Nick Pearson
  • Vansh Prabhu
  • Andy Reisinger
  • Gavin Robertson
  • Jeff Robzen
  • Ira Saltz
  • Shuang Shen
  • Steinn Sigurdsson, Vice-Chair
  • H. Ford Stryker
  • Ming Wang
  • Jong Yun