Revised + rebranded new faculty research grant

From: Simon Atkinson, Vice Chancellor for Research
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2021, 9:05 a.m.
To: Deans, directors and department chairs

Based on valuable feedback from many of you and recommendations from an ad hoc advisory committee, the Office of Research has revised and rebranded the New Faculty General Research Fund (NFGRF), an internal grant program designed to help new faculty launch their research, scholarship and creative activity at KU.

Key points about the retooled and rebranded New Faculty Research Development Award:

  • Two biweekly faculty pay periods are allowed for both Option 1 ($8k) and Option 2 ($20k) awards.
  • Deadlines will be Oct. 1 and March 1 for both Option 1 and Option 2.
  • Awards are competitive, and peer reviews will be conducted by a standing committee for both Option 1 and Option 2.
  • Applicants are encouraged to revise and resubmit their applications if not funded on the first attempt.
  • We are seeking nominations for a review committee.

How we got here
In Spring 2021, the Office of Research convened an ad hoc committee to review the NFGRF program. The award is funded from the Office of Research budget, and it is an important internal mechanism to support new faculty scholarship and development of external research proposals. For many new faculty, the NFGRF application, which is required within the first two years of employment, is their first interaction with the Office of Research. We want this to be an effective grant mechanism that helps faculty launch their research and provides feedback that will help them in crafting more competitive proposals to external funding agencies in the future.

I asked the ad hoc committee to review the NFGRF policy and distribution of awards across the university and to make recommendations for the future of the program, considering the available funding from our office and the cost of research across disciplines. The Office of Research funds approximately $260,000 of NFGRF awards each year, and while this demonstrates our office’s commitment to new faculty success (in addition to funds we contribute for startup packages), it does not allow an NFGRF to be awarded to every faculty member. Because this is a competitive program, I want to ensure fairness in the award process.

I am grateful to the ad hoc committee for providing a review of our procedures. Two years ago, as we increased the maximum award level for Option 2 NFGRF awards to $20,000, we began soliciting internal peer reviews for Option 2 applications, and we have made awards based on these reviews. The committee confirmed that our current award structure is appropriate, and they recommended we expand our internal peer reviews to all applicants (Option 1 and Option 2). They also affirmed that allowing faculty summer salary (two biweekly pay periods maximum) is important to support research activities in certain disciplines.

What’s next
In order to manage the internal peer review of approximately 30-40 applications a year, I am creating a standing review committee, which will review applications twice a year (October and March). I would like to solicit your recommendations for members of this committee. Nominated faculty should be committed to providing constructive feedback to new faculty to help them improve their proposals. I believe faculty will find this a rewarding service opportunity to help mentor faculty while recommending to our office the most meritorious applications for funding.

While the new faculty grant will look similar, I feel that it is important to emphasize that it is competitively awarded and has a primary goal of research development. I also want to dispel any confusion that these funds are associated with KU’s General Research Fund. Therefore, we are rebranding the grant as the New Faculty Research Development Award. We have updated our website and application materials to reflect these changes, which began with the fiscal year. We will invite eligible faculty to apply in advance of each deadline. Please encourage your faculty to take advantage of this opportunity within their first three years at KU; we extended eligibility by one year for new faculty within their first two years of appointment during the 2020-2021 academic year due to COVID-19.


Simon Atkinson
Vice Chancellor for Research