Office of the Provost

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Development and Scholarship FAQ's: Applying for Faculty Summer Grants

 

FAQs: Applying for a Faculty Summer Grant

What kinds of projects are eligible to win Faculty Summer Grants?
Faculty Summer Grants, which are competitive, can be used to support 1) Research or study leading to publication, exhibition, or performance; 2) development of new course content (please note that pedagogical applications should be made to the Faculty Center for Teaching); 3) Professional growth; 4) Direct expenses.

How and where do I apply?
At the beginning of each academic year, FDSC sets the application deadline for the year. The Provost then sends around a memo announcing that date and explaining the application process. For the last few years, the deadline has been in late January, the first Friday after our return from Winter break. The proposal consists of a cover sheet and abstract, a statement of three to five double spaced pages, and a copy of your current c.v. The statement includes a description of the project, its expected outcomes, a list of requirements and/or expenses, if any, and a history of your previous Muhlenberg funding and its outcome(s). If you are applying for a Course Development Grant, you also need a letter from your Department Chair.

Am I eligible to apply every year?
Yes. There are no restrictions on how often you may apply. That being said, FDSC currently follows the guideline in the Provost's memo that states: When funds are limited and proposals are deemed equally meritorious, faculty members who have not received summer grants or collegefunded leaves during the previous year will be given priority over those who have; however, faculty who have a history of significant accomplishments as a result of college funding are encouraged to apply.

Are there any other considerations besides merit that affect FDSC’s evaluation of proposals?
Yes. While our first consideration is merit, there are other factors. FDSC tends to give some extra consideration to first time applicants, who may not yet have learned how to write successful proposals for an interdisciplinary audience. In a highly competitive year, the Provost’s rule (above) may apply. Lastly, we do evaluate the applicant’s history of previous funding and its outcomes.

Course development grants seem to have become more difficult to get in recent years. Is that true?
Yes. In recent years, and in light of the more competitive scholarly environment here at Muhlenberg, FDSC has begun giving course development grants only to applicants who have been asked to develop courses truly outside their own areas of expertise, generally in response to some departmental or collegewide need.

We now also require a letter from the applicant's Department Chair explaining this need and the necessity for the grant. FDSC believes that the development of new courses is part of a faculty member's regular duty; however, there are times when the College's need for new courses requires work above and beyond a faculty member's regular course development duties.

How is my proposal evaluated?
Your proposals are evaluated on the basis of merit and then discussed in committee, where they are ranked with consideration of the above criteria. That ranked list is then sent to the Provost, who decides how far down the list she can fund based on the monies available; in the past three years, about half the applications have been funded.

So why didn’t I get a grant this year?
There are many possible answers to this question. Incomplete applications are often disqualified or significantly marked down in rank: did you provide a complete record of funding? A CV? However, it is undeniable that the competition for grants has grown stiffer. The number of applications for Faculty Summer grants has more than tripled in the past few years, though we are only working with about 20 percent more funds. This year, slightly more than half of the applications received funding. Moreover, we are seeing a radical increase in the number of first time applicants. As noted above, first time applicants are given a slight edge over other competitors.

However, please do also note that the competition changes radically every year, and so a proposal’s position in the ranking might change radically as well; a proposal that ranked 24 th one year might be ranked 10 th among different competition.

I have a project that's too big to be completed over a single summer: can I
apply for multiple grants for the same project over the course of several summers?
Yes, but applicants who receive funding for the "same" project two years in a row are very careful to demonstrate their progress. We have, for instance, seen people build books over the course of several grants, but they have been very careful to delineate exactly what would be achieved in any given grant term and to demonstrate that that work had been completed. Not marking your progress very carefully can hurt future applications, and you will not be funded again if you don't complete the work funded by your previous grant. Set reasonable goals and fulfill them. So you should never apply for the "same" project; it should always be for specific sections or parts of a larger project. You should not resubmit an application that is substantially the same as a previous application.