Interschool Academic Initiatives Program

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce a new call for proposals for projects in our Interschool Academic Initiatives program.  New initiatives will join the five currently funded and in progress:

  • Data Science
  • Exercise Medicine and Sports Science
  • Medical Humanities
  • Sustainability
  • Water UCI

Initiatives are expected to encompass projects that involve research, undergraduate and graduate education programs, outreach to public and private organizations, and philanthropic potential. Proposals may focus on any one of those activities (or others), but the intent of this program is to support initiatives with a wider range of activities than can be accommodated by ORUs or campus and school research centers.  Participation of faculty drawn from several schools (or equivalent units) across campus is a prerequisite for consideration.  Under the leadership of a Director (a tenured or equivalent SOE rank member of the Academic Senate), teams of engaged faculty are expected to develop new programs of interschool excellence. Proposals may be submitted by groups of faculty, departments, centers or institutes, and academic deans. Deans of the relevant schools will have an opportunity to comment on the proposals, and also to indicate whether additional school-based resources would be made available to support the Initiative.

Successful proposals will receive funding of up to $150,000 a year for 3 years. Funding can be used to support any legitimate academic purpose, including specialized administrative support, teaching release, research collaborations, workshops or conferences, student participation, collaboration with the academic units on new graduate concentrations or emphases and undergraduate majors or minors, coordination of grant applications, and outreach and community engagement. General administrative staff support (e.g., web page development and communications, scheduling of meetings and events, advice on foundation support) will be provided through the Office of Academic Initiatives within the Provost’s Office, under the leadership of Vice Provost Al Bennett.  Funded projects will be subject to annual review; sustaining the activity beyond three years will require participants to attract external research funding and/or to develop high quality academic programs with substantial enrollment.

The application this year will be a two stage process.  In order to decrease the workload for both applicants and reviewers, I am asking for a 2 page maximum project description summarizing the salient characteristics of the proposed initiative.  This preproposal should include the name of the initiative, the name and contact information of the Director, the names of associated faculty and their school (or equivalent unit) affiliations, and a brief description of the topic and scope (e.g., research, education, outreach) of the proposed initiative.  Please submit these preproposals electronically to Andrea Bell-Wheelans ( in the Office of Academic Initiatives by noon on Friday, November 14, 2014.  The preproposals will be reviewed by December 1, 2014, and a subset will be invited to submit a more complete description of the proposed project.  Those project descriptions, in 10 or fewer pages should

  • identify the Director and campus-wide participants,
  • discuss the importance of the research theme and/or educational innovation for UCI,
  • explain how UCI is positioned for global leadership in this area,
  • describe potential contributions to each of the areas of Initiative interest:  research, graduate and undergraduate education, community outreach, and potential external financial support,
  • describe a structure of faculty governance and oversight.

Each team-based proposal should be submitted electronically to the Office of the Academic Initiatives to Andrea Bell-Wheelans ( no later than noon, January 16, 2015 for funding at the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year. This call may be repeated next fall pending available funding and the range of quality proposals this year.

Proposals will be reviewed by the Academic Planning Group and the Deans, who will provide guidance on the importance of the activity, the possibilities for achieving leadership in the proposed area, the extent to which there is diverse faculty participation, the leadership qualities and commitment of the Director and faculty leadership, the effectiveness of the plan, and whether it is likely to evolve into a more self-sustaining activity after three years. In making final award decisions, I will supplement the peer-review process with considerations of the balance of topics, with the goal of including themes that permit widespread faculty participation.

Questions about this initiative should be addressed to Al Bennett, Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives, at


Michael P. Clark
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor