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Morgan State University Advances Toward R1 Status, Securing Investments of More Than $100M in Grants, Contracts and Gifts During FY23

by Morgan State U
August 01, 2023

University Nets Record High of More Than $83M in New Research Funding Commitments Alone, Seeing Second Consecutive Year of Growth

BALTIMORE — With the beginning of a new fiscal year underway, Morgan State University today released the results of Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23), which saw Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University receive a combined $100.8 million in grants, contracts and gifts, in addition to a $27-million Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The notable investment in the state’s largest Historically Black College or University (HBCU) includes a record-high $83.3 million in new federal funding commitments for University research and training. This marks the second consecutive year of historic funding commitments, an 11% increase over the previous year.

“Significant and impactful research is taking place on the campus of Morgan State University. Our research is far from being esoteric and is addressing so many of the intractable challenges facing urban and marginalized communities,” said David K. Wilson, president of Morgan. “Whether we are talking about resources received from our federal partners or those received from our corporate partners and individual donors, the more than $100 million achieved during FY23 is a strong endorsement of Morgan’s central role in driving innovation in our state and nation. Morgan is fast positioning itself to be one of the top institutions in the nation in addressing bias in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Systems; in reducing educational disparities; tackling health inequities; researching the root causes of and identifying strategies to reduce violence; building strong cybersecurity programs and research prowess; and in producing an impressive array of diverse talent to drive competitiveness in Maryland and beyond.”

researcher on a microscopeDuring FY23, Morgan researchers submitted 321 new proposals requesting more than $385 million in available funding from an array of U.S. federal agencies, including the Department of Transportation, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy and National Institutes of Health, among others. The University received 165 new funding commitments, from proposals submitted this and last academic year, worth $83.3 million, of which 45 (totaling $31.14 million) were received in the fourth quarter alone. In addition to the record-high $83.3 million received, Morgan also secured a $27-million IDIQ contract from NIST to assist the agency in carrying out research critical to U.S. competitiveness and economic well-being. Morgan’s previous record stood at $75 million in funding commitments achieved during FY22.

Among the projects that received funding during the past year are: 

  • The Morgan State University National Center for Transportation Management, Research and Development further cemented its position as one of the nation’s foremost transportation research authorities, with the receipt of a $15-million grant over five years from the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish a Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Regional Transportation Equity Research (SMARTER) Center. Mansoureh Jeihani, Ph.D., director of Morgan’s National Transportation Center, serves as the principal investigator.
  • The Office of Naval Research awarded Morgan State University a five-year, $9-million grant to address a critical Department of Defense (DoD) need for research in building diverse knowledge bases related to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), especially with respect to cybersecurity. The research is being conducted collaboratively between the newly launched Center for Equitable Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Systems (CEAMLS) and the Cybersecurity Assurance and Policy (CAP) Center. The centers will study the development of formal standards and best practices to test and design new AI and ML innovations that mitigate algorithmic bias.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy awarded Morgan a five-year, $5-million grant to establish an integrated field laboratory (IFL) to study climate impacts and adaptations in urban environments. The newly formed IFL, operating as the Baltimore Social-Environmental Collaborative (BSEC), is a collaborative effort among seven partner universities, government entities and nonprofit affiliates. James Hunter, Ph.D., associate professor of Civil Engineering, serves as the project’s principal investigator.
  • The National Science Foundation’s Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program awarded a $5-million grant to establish a new research and education hub at Morgan State University (MSU). Operating within the School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (SCMNS), the center will unite neighboring institutions to perform bold and innovative studies in advanced magnets and semiconductors. Abdellah Lisfi, Ph.D., professor of Physics, serves as the principal investigator.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded Morgan $4.1 million, through the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, to expand high-speed internet access to underserved areas and improve digital equity. Anna McPhatter, Ph.D., dean of the School of Social Work; Kim Sydnor, Ph.D., dean of the School of Community Health and Policy; Siddhartha Sen, Ph.D., interim dean and professor for the School of Architecture & Planning; and the vice president for the University's Division of Information Technology serve as Co-PIs on the project. 

computer power supply cables on a lab table“We set a goal for the University and its Division of Research and Economic Development to sustain $50 million in sponsored research income, with at least $40 million in research expenditures over the past fiscal year, and we achieved that,” said Willie E. May, Ph.D., vice president of Research and Economic Development and professor of Chemistry at Morgan. “What we are seeing in terms of contracts and grant awards will pave the way for possible ascension to R1 status. And right now, we’re poised to receive even more in FY24.” 

In terms of gifts received, the University saw another solid year of philanthropic giving. The Division of Institutional Advancement, which oversees the Office of Development and the Morgan State University Foundation, received approximately $17.5 million in combined gifts and donations during FY23, a 33.5% increase over FY19’s pre-pandemic giving amount. An estimated 79% of the revenue received was from corporations and foundations. The year’s top reported gift was in the amount of $3 million, donated by international law firm Kirkland & Ellis to support Morgan’s Robert M. Bell Center for Civil Rights in Education. The gifts received will go towards funding scholarships, academic programs, research and student aid.

Added Wilson, “We also believe in involving our undergraduate students in the research enterprise, not just doctoral and post-doctoral students. We are building the type of research university we hope will be a model for this country. Morgan is on a path toward achieving an R1, very high research university status, and maintaining this type of continued investment will support getting us there.”


About Morgan
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering more than 140 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit 

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Media Contacts:
Larry Jones or Dell Jackson, for University PR