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General overview

  • It is necessary to clearly understand the difference between "sponsored program" or "project" and a "gift" or "grant" provided by a donor. The term sponsored project relates only to research, service, or instruction projects that are conducted with support provided by some entity outside the University (e.g. National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Kellogg Foundation). A sponsored project grant or contract is based on a commitment from the University to carry out a specified activity in keeping with terms and conditions agreed upon by both parties. The sponsored project may require some use of University resources and the sponsor generally receives some benefit as a result of making the award (e.g. reports, manuscripts, data, products and/or services). By contrast, a "gift" from a donor may carry a stipulation as to its use, but there can be no expectation of benefit to the donor; it is donative in its purpose.

    The differences are based on the purpose of the funds provided and the nature and purpose of the sponsoring or donating entity. The distinction is important for the following reasons:

    • Difference in how funds are administered and accounted for.
    • Terms and conditions are generally different.
    • The expected results are different.


    Three relevant University policies approved by the Board of Regents are included in the Exhibit Section. They are the Policy on Classified and Proprietary Work, the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment, and the Policy on Misconduct in Scholarly Work.