Fund fuels CMU ‘culture of innovation’

President and provost call for proposals for new student-focused programs

| Author: Jeff Johnston

​The launch of a fund to innovate student-focused programs is ramping up Central Michigan University's strategic transformation.

The President's and Provost's Fund for Program Innovation and Excellence opened Wednesday with the announcement of a request for proposals from CMU departments, faculty and staff.

Its goal is "to encourage and support new program initiatives and approaches," President Robert O. Davies and Provost Mary C. Schutten said in an introduction. "Applicants are encouraged to be creative and think broadly and deeply about the possibilities."

Start the transformation

Faculty and staff wishing to submit a proposal for consideration can start the process here, with a request for proposals document, budget template and cover sheet.

Purpose and process

The competitive $3 million fund is dedicated to curricular, cocurricular or scholarly projects focused on rigor, relevance and excellence. The call for proposals outlines five objectives:

  • Distinguish CMU as an equitable and inclusive marketplace of ideas.
  • Enhance opportunities in lifelong learning.
  • Strengthen partnerships with organizations.
  • Fulfill mid-career educational needs.
  • Develop leaders and enhance leadership skills, thoughts and actions; provide a primary connection to the rural and underserved communities that CMU serves; enhance enrollment and retention; and develop distinctive programs for the world in 2030.

After a Nov. 25 submission deadline, an ad hoc committee with the experience and background to assess the specific proposals will advise the president and provost, who will make the final decisions on recipients and amounts in February 2020.

"Our goal is to award the entire $3 million this fiscal year," Davies said.

Funding will support new initiatives rather than existing plans or programs. Applicants can propose projects lasting up to two years, with second-year funding contingent on satisfactory progress in the first year. Interdisciplinary projects are encouraged.

While it's planned as a one-time fund, the president, provost and Board of Trustees may choose to continue the program in future years.

"This is an exciting opportunity for faculty," said biology faculty member and Academic Senate Chair Bradley Swanson. "The world of education and educational research is changing more quickly than most faculty can adapt, so this infusion of funds to focus on curricular innovations will allow faculty the time and resources they need to bring CMU to the forefront of education and provide the highest quality of education to our students."

Ongoing transformation

The fund aligns with a 10-year strategic envisioning process Davies initiated — titled "Rigor, Relevance and Excellence" — to position CMU for success in 2030 and beyond.

"Ten years is a longer planning time horizon to allow for bold and innovative thought," Davies told the Board of Trustees on Sept. 19. "It enables us to think in transformational terms, not in annual and short-term transactional tactical forms. We will reshape Central and position ourselves to better serve our students; foster innovation and economic development; ensure civic and social advancement; and spur new creations that will impact our region, our state and beyond."

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