Ninety-nine percent of all gifts to Cornell University for research and education are restricted grants designated for specific purposes. But between 15% and 20% of these awards do not contribute to the university's general expenses, such as maintenance and utilities. In response to this inequity, Cornell University Provost Robert Barker has introduced a policy requiring that a certain percentage of all gifts must go to pay indirect costs, regardless of the donor's specifications. In some cases these charges will either equal the indirect costs normally assessed on federal grants and contracts, or they will be levied at a discounted rate, which for general education programs could be as low as 10%.

In order to prepare the university's facilities for the policy, Cornell began a trial run July 1, showing on departmental accounts what the deductions would have been if the plan had been in effect. "We're going to discover all...

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