Vanderbilt Strong Faculty Grant Program launches

The university has announced the Vanderbilt Strong Faculty Grant Program to support faculty’s work to further Vanderbilt’s mission of learning and discovery. The program will help faculty continue to make progress in their teaching, research, scholarship and creative expression efforts during the constraints imposed on activities required by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier (John Russell/Vanderbilt)
Chancellor Daniel Diermeier (John Russell/Vanderbilt)

“It is imperative that we provide our faculty with the support they need to continue their vital work teaching and researching during this unprecedented time,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. “The Vanderbilt Strong Faculty Grant Program is designed to meet immediate needs. It will also encourage Vanderbilt scholars to think boldly about innovative approaches while offering unique opportunities to students across Vanderbilt’s schools and colleges.”

The grant program is designed to counterbalance direct impacts to faculty efforts so all can continue pursuing academic excellence. The funding, for example, aims to facilitate more in-person experiences for students by providing resources to further support in-person teaching where there is a mix of in-person and remote enrollees. In addition, the program seeks to support alternative approaches needed to foster research, scholarship and creative expression.

Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente (Vanderbilt University)
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente (Vanderbilt University)

“We are excited to launch the Vanderbilt Strong Faculty Grant Program as part of a larger set of initiatives to ensure the strength and continuance of our mission during the ongoing pandemic,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente said. “There’s been many different converging impacts over the past six months on our faculties’ scholarly pursuits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this new grant program will allow us to continue investing in and supporting our faculty, especially those activities that require extra effort, collaboration and creativity to move forward.”

To ensure efforts are focused on supporting current activities as much as possible, interest in the provost’s other internal funding mechanisms (e.g. Discovery grants and University Courses) will be directed to this new, Vanderbilt Strong-streamlined, enhanced mechanism designed to provide quicker and more flexible funding.

Vanderbilt Strong Faculty Grant Program grants may range in size and purpose, with two general tracks available, Rapid Cycle and Gap grants. Rapid Cycle grants of $2,000 or less will be available to fill an immediate need to be used within a semester, and Gap grants will be offered for larger requests and are designed to address disproportional impacts on faculty due to their specific roles, activities and personal obligations during COVID operations. The program is not intended to replace existing sources of support, to fund normal expenses or to support new research initiatives.

“Vanderbilt Strong is just one of many new university resources that have been put in place to support the community,” Wente said. “Given the complexities of different individual needs, we are deploying an array of initiatives, including the Vanderbilt University Employee COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, to ensure we have a diverse set of support mechanisms in place for the Vanderbilt community. The deans of each of the schools and colleges may also develop local programs to address specific strategic needs.”

Examples of how the Vanderbilt Strong Faculty Grant Program can be used to support faculty teaching include:

  • Hire a student or postdoc to help prepare course materials designed specifically for an in-person course that has remote student enrollment. This might include work-study students.
  • Hire a graduate/professional student to be a “master of the chat” for an in-person class where the student attends in-person course meetings to help monitor and, when needed, to amplify the voice of students who are participating remotely.
  • Purchase a digital tool or tangible resource that facilitates adaptive teaching, including the ability to effectively teach and engage students who are physically present and masked as well as students who attend through virtual platforms.

Examples of how the Vanderbilt Strong Faculty Grant Program can be used to support faculty research, scholarship and creative expression include:

  • Hire a student research assistant to advance research, scholarship and creative expression that was disrupted by changes due to COVID operations. This might include work-study students.
  • Get support for grant writing assistance.
  • Purchase materials or supplies to facilitate activities that would have otherwise been conducted in the field outside of Vanderbilt facilities.
  • Enable access to digital collections or local archives by collaborators at international locations, and facilitate research, scholarship and creative expression interrupted by travel restrictions during the pandemic.

The Faculty Senate plans to host workshops in the coming weeks to discuss the myriad ways faculty may take advantage of the program. More details will be available soon.

All full-time, VU-employed (provost-reporting) faculty are eligible to apply for the program, and the application portal will open on Oct. 5. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until April 1, 2021, or as funds allow. A separate application will be established in the spring for the following academic year.

For detailed information on the Vanderbilt Strong Faculty Grant Program, visit the program webpage.