February 5, 2001
revamps funding guidelines
By Michael Terrazas
Because of declining applications for funding under its original guidelines, the University Teaching Fund (UTF) has amended its grant qualifications in hopes of spurring more interest and more proposals.
The UTF, administered through a standing committee of the Faculty Council,
was established in 1996 to provide resources for innovative
teaching, encouraging faculty to design courses that were decidedly outside
the mainstream of pedagogy. But current chair Arri Eisen, a senior lecturer
in biology, said project proposals slowly dwindled in recent years.
Since it was founded, the UTF has distributed nearly $900,000 through
more than 100 grants to more than 40 departments. In 199697, 37
projects totaling $230,000 were funded out of 91 proposals; in 19992000,
just 15 projects out of 42 proposals received funding for a total of $74,000.
Considering the UTF is budgeted for roughly $250,000 each year through
the provosts office, that meant a lot of resources were going unused.
You can only be innovative so many times, Eisen
said, offering his explanation. It was just time, because we werent
getting the applications, to reevaluate what we were doing. The general
consensus was to broaden our mandate and renovate the guidelines.
So Eisen and his UTF colleagues brought their suggestions to the Faculty
Council in meetings late last year and in January, explaining the reasons
why the committees funding guidelines needed to be changed and then
presenting concrete proposals for the new language. The council voted
earlier this month and, just like that, UTF was reborn.
Call it addition by subtraction. Rather than add new wording to describe
what the UTF will fund, committee members instead decided to delete language
detailing what it would not. Though the committee still hopes to encourage
nontraditional projects, it struck its own ban on proposals that are not
innovative, per se.
Also gone is language prohibiting curriculum development
through UTF resources; under the old guidelines, this activity was discouraged
on the grounds that it was the sort of thing individual departments should
support. But, quite the contrary, some Faculty Council members felt curriculum
development was exactly the sort of thing UTF should be funding.
We are always walking a line between what schools and departments
should be funding anyway because we are in the business of education,
Eisen said. For example, say I want to teach a new course on the
human genome project. If I need to buy some DNA lab equipment, thats
something my department should support. But lets say that one summer
I want to bring 10 students to the [National Institutes of Health]thats
the kind of thing I would apply for through the UTF.
Eisen said the funding cycles remain the sameApril deadlines for funding available July 1, October deadlines for money on Dec. 1and the range of $1,000$25,000 is not set in stone. Full guidelines are available on the UTF website at www.emory.edu/SENATE/facultycou/fac_cmtes/utf_bylaws.htm.