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Research Growth Plan

Under the direction of President Pestello, the Office of the Vice President for Research has developed a Research Growth Plan to build the university’s research enterprise into one that reflects the transformative work of our faculty.

This plan is divided into three sections, which can be viewed below. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, the Office of the Vice President for Research provides regular updates to the campus community to show what has been done thus far in making this vision a reality.

1. Double the research enterprise at Saint Louis University from $50 million to $100 million.

While funding is not synonymous with research excellence, our broad research interests and ambitions demand that we grow the number of funded awards given to SLU researchers. $100 million is an obtainable goal with modest internal investments and aggressive external fundraising.

The Office of the Vice President for Research has worked alongside each dean in developing a set of annual goals pertaining to funded awards given to SLU researchers, while ensuring that faculty have access to any and all resources needed to make these goals a reality. These will include comprehensive research administration support, grantsmanship training, seed funding, and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. The Office of the Vice President for Research also has engaged leading consulting firm Lewis-Burke Associates to connect SLU researchers with relevant funding opportunities and agencies.

2. Develop a set of university-wide strategic research priorities.

Saint Louis University will launch several major research initiatives that will combine internal investments, external funding, new faculty hires, and philanthropic investment. These initiatives will carefully consider our institution’s mission and identity as a Catholic, Jesuit research university, our location in St. Louis and Madrid, and our relationship with regional partners.

Big Ideas Competition

The Office of the Vice President of Research has previously convened groups of faculty from across the university that have common scholarly and scientific interests. In the Fall 2017 semester, OVPR launched a formal, competitive process through which faculty are able to propose research programs as potential university-level research priorities. This competition began with a call for “Big Ideas” from SLU researchers and offers increasing levels of investment for projects that demonstrate broad faculty engagement, strong leadership and compelling research plans.

SLU's Research Institute provides support to each of the selected projects and faculty leadership teams as they develop their Big Idea into a genuine asset of  the University's research enterprise.

The first round of the Big Ideas competition ended in April 2018; eight projects received planning grants and four were endorsed by the Research Growth Committee. The latest round ended in May 2019; two projects received planning grants and three were endorsed by the Research Growth Committee.

In October 2019, the University launched the SLU Geospatial Institute. Also known as GeoSLU, the Geospatial Institute began as a project funded through the Big Ideas competition. Several more projects are expected to launch as Institutes in the coming months.

For a comprehensive list of Big Ideas projects, as well as more information on the Big Ideas competition overall, please visit the Big Ideas website.

3. Raise the profile and impact of Saint Louis University as a preeminent regional research university.

Though important, research funding does not drive national rankings; scholarly and scientific research reputation does. Research reputation is critical to attracting exceptional students, and dependable research support and processes are necessary to attract and retain exceptional faculty.

The Office of the Vice President for Research is actively making a number of changes to best support our faculty and optimize the impact of their work, including simplifying the process of applying for and managing grants, replacing the electronic grants management system (eRS), and the reorganization of grants support staff around campus. The replacement of eRS is already well underway; the system is scheduled to be replaced with InfoEd during the 2017-2018 school year.  There are also a number of topical workshops and programs now available for faculty seeking to work on their grantsmanship. The Office of the Vice President for Research believes that these changes will enable our faculty to continually perform impactful research for our region and our world.

In addition to building a culture of faculty empowerment on campus, our university continues to strengthen relationships with regional partners. The Office of the Vice President for Research has hosted a number of successful events with regional partner universities, venture capitalists, leaders in research commercialization, and other innovators. Local partnerships – such as those SLU has with the Danforth Plant Science Center, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Washington University in St. Louis, Cortex and many more – continue to flourish, and it is energizing to see our regional community’s interest in SLU’s success.