Office of Sponsored Programs About the Research Foundation

About the Research Foundation

The Research Foundation of State University of New York (RF), the largest university-connected, research foundation in the world, enables discovery through strong, behind-the-scenes support of research, education, and public service.

The Research Foundation provides SUNY faculty, students and staff with the support and flexibility necessary to enable them to focus on research and other sponsored programs funded by federal and state governments, private sector companies and nonprofit foundations. These programs, carried out on SUNY campuses and a wide variety of other research locations, encompass a vast range of disciplines and activities from basic and applied science and engineering research to training and education programs. Sponsored activities take place in almost every field, ranging from the arts to quantum physics, have a major impact on the quality of life in the state. SUNY researchers have pioneered nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, isolated the bacterium that cause Lyme disease, developed the first implantable heart pace-maker, and made hundreds of other innovative contributions. Today, the university ranks among the top ten research universities in the country in patenting new discoveries. The RF helps move inventions by researchers to the marketplace to create jobs and boost the New York state economy.

Staff with RF responsibilities at the 30 state-operated campuses and the central office in Albany work with the academic and business leadership of campuses to support research and discovery at SUNY through efficient and skillful administration of sponsored projects and adept transfer and sharing of intellectual property for public benefit and economic growth. To facilitate such work, the Research Foundation administers contracts and grants and provides technology transfer services, fiscal support, computing services legal services, personnel and payroll services, internal auditing, and communication and publications services.

Overseeing the Foundation's operations is a Board of Directors, composed of researchers, campus and university administrators, SUNY Trustees, and representatives of business and industry. The SUNY Chancellor serves as board chair. Sponsored programs functions delegated to the campuses are conducted under the supervision of Foundation operations managers - university officials appointed by campus presidents and approved by the Foundation's board.

Mission Statement

The Research Foundation serves State University of New York and the people of New York State by providing leadership and the highest-quality support for broad-based research, education, and public service programs. As SUNY's partner, the Research Foundation assures fiduciary responsibility to sponsors, principal investigators, and SUNY campuses, in an environment in which each individual is treated with dignity, respect, and fairness.

Oversight and Accountability

RF operations managers at 30 campuses appointed by the RF board of directors (based on the recommendation of the respective campus president) are responsible for the day-to-day administration of sponsored programs including the support of financial, human resource, procurement and reporting activities at each campus.

The RF, which is accountable to the organizations that fund sponsored programs, adheres strictly to sponsor guidelines and government regulations.

The RF board of directors oversees all aspects of the corporation. As with other nonprofit corporations, the voluntary, independent board has representation from key stakeholder groups and is composed of business and industry leaders and SUNY researchers, as well as campus and system administrators.

The RF board appoints all corporate officers, including the president who serves as the chief executive officer.

A Private Nonprofit Corporation

The RF was established in 1951 as a nonprofit, tax exempt corporation and supports SUNY pursuant to an agreement approved in 1977 by the State Comptroller, Director of the Division of the Budget, and the Attorney General. It is one of over 100 similar university-connected research foundations across the United States.

The 1977 agreement formalized the RF’s role as the organization responsible for managing research grants and other sponsored programs. Key provisions of the agreement include:

All research applications are submitted by SUNY through the RF. Grant funds awarded by sponsors must be administered in accordance with the sponsor’s terms and conditions. The RF provides the following functions:

  • hiring and paying personnel necessary to conduct research programs
  • purchasing necessary equipment and supplies in support of sponsored research
  • ensuring that funds are safe and available
  • providing financial reports to sponsors

Sponsored programs are externally funded activities in which a formal written grant, contract, or cooperative agreement is awarded to the institution and received by the RF. The Research Foundation provides the independence and administrative flexibility to respond quickly to the special demands of sponsored programs in a manner that facilitates their scientific or technical execution; these are needs that could not be as easily accommodated through state processes.

For these programs, the RF provides the faculty/staff members (principal investigators or project directors) with:

  • flexibility to employ people within the project start and end dates, including faculty in the summer when they are not on the SUNY payroll
  • timely purchase of supplies and equipment and reimbursement of travel costs
  • ability to subcontract to third parties to conduct a portion of the program
  • timely billing of sponsors for payment, including drawing down from federal letters of credit
  • timely submission of sponsor-required financial reports
  • compliance with federal and state regulations and sponsor terms and conditions
  • prefunding of expenditures prior to sponsor reimbursement

Sponsored Program Lifecycle

» Lifecycle Chart

Mailing Information

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Albany, New York 12201-0009

Street Address for Non-U.S. Postal Service Deliveries:

35 State Street
Albany, New York 12207-2826