PNW says fed COVID vaccine mandate won’t harm school’s research funding

Universities nationwide are mandating COVID-19 vaccinations since President Joseph Biden ordered federal contractors to get the shot, but PNW is not worried about losing its $11 million in government funds. 

“At this time, we are not worried about changes in funding at PNW due to this mandate,” said Maja Marjanovic, director of Research and Sponsored Programs. “The mandate applies to contracts with the government. … [The] majority of the instruments used for research funding at Purdue Northwest are grants, with an occasional cooperative agreement.  The mandate does not apply to grants and cooperative agreements.” 


PNW’s $11 million in federal research funding represents about 7% of the university’s $157 million annual budget. 

Marjanovic said the university currently has only one federal research contract that could be affected by the federal vaccination mandate. However, she said the mandate will not apply to it until the funding agency amends it.

That said, PNW is already looking for ways to meet federal requirements that could impact university research projects.


“Purdue Northwest is working very closely with Purdue University West Lafayette to determine the best ways to follow the government mandate, when and if it becomes part of the currently active contract,” she said.  “There is a tentative plan in place, which would only involve those faculty, staff and students working on the particular project.


“It would satisfy the requirements of the mandate, and it would have minimal impact on the operation of our campus,” she said.


Biden’s order, announced on Sept. 9, conditions federal contractor funding on compliance with the vaccination mandate.  It has led colleges and universities across the nation to revisit their vaccine guidelines.  Even some universities in conservative states where vaccine mandates are prohibited have announced plans to require vaccinations of employees working on the federal projects.


University faculty members are working on an array of research and development projects supported by federal funds.


Recently, PNW announced that its Center for Visualization and Simulation is working on a Department of Energy project to develop a next-generation integrated blast furnace to improve blast furnace energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.


Last year, the university announced that the College of Technology won a National Security Agency project to help expand the nation’s cybersecurity workforce.


In January, PNW announced that faculty from the College of Technology and College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences are collaborating on a National Security Agency project to develop an educational program that encourages high school students to consider careers in cybersecurity. 


Most research programs involve both faculty and students, and federal funds are used to compensate them for their work.

“Federal funding is instrumental for Purdue Northwest as it supports the advancement of research, faculty scholarship, student learning and regional development,” said Marjanovic.  “Since the start of the fiscal year 2021-22, we have already received $7.8 million in research funds, so we anticipate that we will meet or exceed $11 million in research funds again this year.”