November 7, 2017

Subject: Interdisciplinary Cluster Hires: Round One Call For Proposals: Executive Summaries Due 12/18/2017


The University of Delaware is committed to our shared aspirations of:

  • Enhancing the success of our students;
  • Building an environment of inclusive excellence;
  • Investing in our intellectual and physical capital;
  • Strengthening interdisciplinary and global programs; and
  • Fostering a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The faculty we hire are critically important in our pursuit of these aspirations. Beyond continuing to build excellence through hiring within our well-established disciplines, we aim to expand teaching and research in emerging fields of study that cut across the traditional boundaries of academic disciplines, and hence shape new fields of discovery, learning, and engagement.

The interdisciplinary faculty cluster hiring initiative can help us address society's most vexing challenges through the collaboration of natural, life, and social sciences; engineering; health sciences; humanities; policy; business; and the arts. Hiring multiple faculty members in interdisciplinary clusters enables us to

  • Attract top-tier faculty who are excited about the possibilities of collaborating with a critical mass of scholars;
  • Enhance the scope, impact and reputation of our research enterprise, as well as our educational and engagement programs;
  • Develop new interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate programs;
  • Diversify our faculty; and
  • Provide mentoring opportunities for faculty.

We have some experience with cluster hires, upon which we will build. These efforts include a recent and ongoing cluster search in inclusive excellence (four faculty hired; fifth search is ongoing) and one in African American Material Culture (in progress in the College of Arts and Sciences).

We are currently launching a university-wide pilot cluster search in Data Science. This pilot cluster builds upon related searches that have already been authorized in several colleges. This pilot is being launched based on agreement across colleges that a cluster search in data science is a unique growth opportunity for UD at this time, and a detailed white paper has been submitted by a university-wide group of faculty and administrators that addresses the opportunity. In addition, this pilot will allow us to refine protocols and processes for efficiently managing university-wide searches of this type.

We intend to launch additional cluster searches during the 2018-2019 academic year, and we invite your input regarding appropriate areas of focus for these “Round One” cluster searches. Specifically, we invite executive summary proposals to be submitted to the Provost’s office no later than December 18, 2017.

The criteria, process, and format for executive summary proposals are described below. While proposals are invited in any interdisciplinary area, we particularly invite proposals that address the following topics:

  • Life and Health Sciences: specifically, in
    • Biopharmaceuticals (e.g. biopharma development and manufacturing; formulations; vaccine development)
    • Microbiology/immunology (e.g. microbial communities; genomics; microbial discovery;
    • applications of microbes for energy and environmental purposes; infectious disease interventions; antibiotic resistance; host-microbe interactions)
    • One Health (e.g. interrelationships of health of humans, animals, and ecosystems; zoonotic diseases)
    • Healthy Communities (e.g. arts, creativity, and wellness; nutrition; food safety; lifespan health issues; health outreach and policy; health inequities)
  • Energy and Environment, including Environmental Humanities and Environmental Policy (e.g. renewable energy; coastal environments, resources and management; art and design in landscapes; environmental engineering; environmental policy; environmental humanities)
  • Social Justice and Interventions (e.g. policy; Wilmington partnerships; child health, education, and development; lifespan issues; race, social justice and community engagement)

A proposal may request junior faculty positions (in cases where there is an established senior leader for the cluster on campus) or a combination involving one senior hire and an appropriate number of associated junior hires. A typical request for a cluster should be in the range of 3-5 hires. Proposals for single hires will not be considered through this call; instead, such proposals should be part of the annual budget and planning process between the colleges and the Office of the Provost. Proposals may request appropriate start-up packages consisting of equipment and renovations.

Criteria and Goals

Cluster hire proposals will be evaluated according to how well they further our shared strategic aspirations as noted above. The criteria that will be used to evaluate proposals follow:

  • Does the proposed cluster tie to areas of strength and/or strategic importance at UD?
  • Does the cluster start from scratch or does it build on formal or informal collaborations already in place?
  • Does the proposed field have national and/or international relevance?
  • Is there strong potential for scholarship? For creative activity? For community engagement and impact?
  • Is there strong potential for funding (e.g. from tuition, philanthropy, and/or direct and indirect revenues from grants)?
  • Will there be positive impact on undergraduate and graduate education, including if relevant the establishment of new academic programs?
  • Is hiring in this cluster likely to further our inclusive excellence goals?
  • Is the project truly interdisciplinary, requiring faculty from different areas to work together to achieve goals?
  • Is there a plan to manage and sustain the cluster?
  • Has leadership for the cluster been defined?
  • Are resources needed for the cluster already available and/or readily identified, e.g. facilities, space, staffing, and other resources?
  • Is there other support for the cluster, including additional faculty lines from participating departments, schools, or colleges as well as outside collaborators?
  • In light of the above points: Is the proposal ready for implementation?

Process and Timeline

  • 12/18/2017: Due date for executive summaries back to the Provost’s office (see format below)
  • 2/7/2018: Provost will solicit full proposals based on the executive summaries that have been deemed most appropriate at this time
  • 4/2/2018: Full proposals due to Provost’s office
  • 5/31/2018: Target date: announcement of approved cluster hires and approved searches to take place during 2018-19 year

Format for Executive Summaries

  • Word documents, no more than 3 pages in length.
  • Due as e-mail attachment to Peggy Bottorff by 12/18/2017
  • Information to include:
    • Submitter name(s) and titles
    • Theme of the proposed cluster
    • A brief description of the interdisciplinary field of study (research, scholarly activity, and teaching)
    • Statement of research/scholarly impact, community engagement impact, and educational merit to UD
      • “Educational merit” means: how will the program add to UD’s undergraduate and/or graduate programs? What is the estimated enrollment impact (new or increased enrollment) of related undergraduate and graduate programs? (Estimated number of students is strongly encouraged.)
      • How will we know that there is an actual or potential market for these programs?
    • Estimate of revenue to be generated (even if a very rough estimate)
    • A list of collaborating units
    • Relationship to University strategic priorities
    • Estimate of number of proposed hires and estimate of existing related faculty
      • Are there related recent or expected faculty retirements?
    • Estimate of startup needs or other support critical for the program
    • Estimate of any matching funds that are available
    • Discussion of program leadership
    • Statement of how this cluster can further our inclusive excellence goals
    • Timeline for implementing the proposal if it is approved in Round One (approved by late spring 2018)

    Full Proposals

    • Only those invited in February to submit full proposals should do so.
    • A proposal template (Word) and budget template (Excel) will be provided when the full proposals are solicited in February 2018. Invited full proposals should be submitted as e-mail attachments to Peggy Bottorff by April 2, 2018.

    The Provost’s office will hold two interest meetings to provide further information and answer questions about Round One cluster searches. Please join us for these meetings, which will be held on Tuesday, November 14th at 1 PM in Trabant Multi-purpose Room C and on Wednesday, November 15 at 1 PM in the Trabant Theater.


    signature of President Dennis Assanis signature of Interim Provost Robin Morgan

    Dennis Assanis

    Robin Morgan
    Interim Provost

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