Policies for External Institution Grants
This information is meant to complement key material on sponsored research and faculty-originated institutional grants that may be found on the DOF web page. In particular, "Grant Preparation Assistance" by Bob DeSieno 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 of the initiative of the president or the 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. As well, institutional grants can encourage, respond to and reward faculty creativity and initiative. It is also true that, 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 would like to be seen as a valued partner.
The only way we can achieve this goal, 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 creative, innovative funding ideas and by implementing funded programs effectively. This is also why, in addition to the important goal of advancing institutional goals, Skidmore must be active in the foundation grants arena.
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 the radar screen of leading foundations, to be on "A-lists" of colleges that receive important RFPs, and to be part of important national conversations about shaping the direction of higher education in America. Another consequence of not applying for, or not getting, grants is that, well, we don't get the grants, and since many or most of our peer institutions are applying for and getting these grants, we fall behind them 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 and reactively (via RFPs), for key foundation (and to a lesser extent, corporate) grants and that we implement them in a creative and innovative fashion. One implication of this conclusion is that faculty members, as the essential site of Skidmore's pedagogical and scholarly creativity, must be willing to propose, help develop and implement creative funding ideas.
Funding ideas may come from within, 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. The Grants Committee is also consulted early in the process. 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 special assistant to the vice president for finance and administration is always kept in the loop and has important input into 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 dean's office will inform/consult with faculty committees as appropriate, especially in the case of major institutional grants.
- People on project development committees are responsible for keeping their colleagues informed of their work.
- 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.
- Once a proposal has been funded, faculty members are responsible for supporting the work their colleagues have performed to develop/create the successful project.
- 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.
- Involve representatives from appropriate departments/programs/offices in program/proposal development.
- Notify/involve faculty committees of grant activities as appropriate.
Note: The administration also has a responsibility to the funding agency to execute a funded grant essentially as proposed. Program grants naturally undergo a certain evolution in the course of their lives. Nevertheless, a successful grant proposal 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.