Policy for External Institutional Grants
This information is meant to complement the preceding “Notes on Preparing Proposals for External Funding” and key material on sponsored research and faculty-originated institutional grants that may be found on the Office of Sponsored Research and the Foundation and Corporate Relations websites https://www.skidmore.edu/sponsored_research and http://cms.skidmore.edu/foundations/Index.cfm). In particular, “Notes on Preparing Proposals for External Funding” contains specific information about idea development and proposal preparation. The focus here is more general, and pertains mainly to institutional grants that arise as a result of RFPs (requests for proposals) or as initiatives of the president, vice presidents, or deans, although it relates as well to faculty-originated grants with a departmental or institutional focus.
The college seeks external funding, particularly from foundations, to advance key institutional priorities. Institutional grants can encourage, respond to and reward faculty creativity and initiative. Also, by virtue of their resources, both financial and scholarly, leading foundations are engaged in important conversations about the direction of higher education in America. Foundations seek partners in these conversations and, consistent with our standing as a leading liberal arts institution, Skidmore strives to be a valued partner. Engagement with key foundations often leads to more grant opportunities as well as increased visibility and prestige for the college and for the individuals involved in the conversations.
The only way we can achieve these goals, however, is by demonstrating to foundations that we are an institution where creativity, innovation and pedagogical and scholarly achievement thrive. We make educational leaders/foundation personnel sit up and take notice mainly by proposing compelling funding ideas and by implementing funded programs effectively. If we are not demonstrating creativity and innovation, either through our implementation of grants or by not applying for certain grants in the first place, we lose in two key ways. We lose our place at the table, so to speak—the opportunity to be on “A-lists” of colleges that receive important RFPs and to be part of important national higher education conversations. Another consequence of not applying for, or not getting, grants is that we fall behind our peers in terms of innovation, with the attendant drop in reputation.
To summarize, then, it is vitally important to the college’s academic standing that we continue to apply, both proactively (via initiating conversations about good ideas) and reactively (via RFPs), for key foundation (and to a lesser extent, corporate) grants, and that we implement those grants masterfully. One implication of this conclusion is that faculty members, as the essential locus of Skidmore’s pedagogical and scholarly creativity, must be willing to propose, help develop and implement creative funding ideas based on, and with an eye toward advancing, best practices in a national context.
Funding ideas may come from within the institution, or foundations may invite proposals (RFPs) for particular projects. The appropriate dean, in consultation with the president and others, makes the initial determination whether to pursue a funding idea or an RFP. Following this initial determination, an ad-hoc committee is formed, consisting of representatives from the appropriate administrative offices and faculty departments/programs, to develop the project (and the proposal). The Director of Financial Planning and Budgeting is always kept in the loop and has important input regarding budget considerations.
Grant projects will be announced to academic staff as part of the regular meeting agenda, and this group will be charged with keeping their colleagues informed as they would about any matter of institutional academic import. The Office of the DOF/VPAA will inform/consult with faculty committees as appropriate, especially in the case of major institutional grants.
1. People on project development committees are responsible for keeping their colleagues informed of their work.
2. People whose departments are involved in a funding opportunity, but who do not serve on the development committee, are responsible for keeping themselves abreast of proposal/project developments. “Keeping abreast” includes the responsibility to make one’s voice heard if one is unhappy with the direction in which the proposal is moving.
3. Once a proposal has been funded, faculty members are responsible for supporting the work their colleagues have performed in developing/creating the successful project.
1. Notify all members of involved departments/programs about grant opportunities. Notify the community at large, at least via regular communication with academic staff, of grants the college is pursuing.
2. Involve representatives from appropriate departments/programs/offices in program/proposal development.
3. Notify/involve faculty committees of grant activities as appropriate.
Note: The college also has a responsibility to the funding agency to execute a funded grant
essentially as proposed and in accordance with the terms of the award notice. Program
grants naturally undergo a certain evolution in the course of their lives. Nevertheless,
a successful grant proposal and subsequent award is an agreement between the college
and the funding agency whereby the agency agrees to fund a particular program and
the college agrees to carry out that program essentially as proposed.
Significant alterations to a successful proposal, at least in the short term, are not normally possible and typically require the prior consent of the funding entity. Discussions of possible changes, including extensions, should be held as far as possible in advance with the Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations or the Director of the Office of Sponsored Research in the case of federal or state funded activities.