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Investing in Academic Excellence

President Cartwright’s 2021-22 Strategic Investment Program invests in core academic activities to support the president’s vision that UCF will become the world’s leading public metropolitan research university. Faculty and staff are encouraged to submit proposals.

This initiative will award up to $50 million during the current fiscal year to advance UCF’s academic excellence, student success, and impact. The funds are a combination of $30 million in central funds and up to $20 million in matches from colleges and units.

Proposals are invited in three priority investment categories: the Jump Start Fund, Academic Excellence Fund, and Student Success Fund. Each fund has specific goals, submission requirements, guidelines, and deadlines.

Jump Start Fund

($5 Million Non-Recurring + Match)

The Jump Start Fund will fund one-time projects or purchases that will amplify our impact. Proposals could include requests for research infrastructure, facilities renovations under $2 million, equipment, temporary staff, etc. A total of $5 million of central university non-recurring funds will be invested.

Jump Start Proposals will be evaluated based on impact to the university and return on investment. In addition, the strongest proposals in this program will:

  • Include the commitment of additional new matching funds (e.g., college/department carryforward funds, corporate partnerships, philanthropy)
  • Build on areas of excellence and past investment

Jump Start Awards must be utilized (funds expensed or encumbered) by June 30, 2022.

The period for submissions closed on August 25. Awards will be announced soon.

Academic Excellence Fund

($8.5 Million Recurring + $15 Million Non-Recurring + Match)

The Academic Excellence Fund is meant to support big ideas that will have substantial impact. University leadership anticipates selecting 3 to 5 proposals for funding. A total of $8.5 million in recurring central funds and $15 million in central non-recurring funds will be invested, plus unit matching funds.

Proposals need to clearly identify expected impact and return on investment for the university, describe expected outcomes, and provide a timeline for implementation. In addition, the strongest proposals in this program will:

  • Include the commitment of additional new matching funds (recurring or nonrecurring, e.g., college/department carryforward funds, corporate partnerships, philanthropy)
  • Build on areas of excellence and significant past investment

Proposals may request recurring funds and/or nonrecurring funds, as needed to achieve the impact and expected outcomes defined in the proposal. Recurring funds may be used for personnel, operating dollars, etc. Non-recurring funds could be used for start-up funds, equipment, renovation under $2 million, etc.

If new hires are included as part of the proposal, they should be completed within two years (new hires in place by fall 2023).

The submission deadline closed on September 10. Proposals are under review.

Academic Excellence Fund Review Committee

  • Caroline ‘Carol’ Whitacre (Chair), Former Senior Vice President for Research, The Ohio State University 
  • Deborah Beidel, Trustee Chair and Executive Director, UCF RESTORES, University of Central Florida 
  • Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Klonoff, Vice President for Research and Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, University of Central Florida 
  • Cynthia Sagers, Vice President for Research, Arizona State University 
  • Sudipta Seal, Chair, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Central Florida 
  • Andrea Wesser-Brawner, Chief Innovation and Emerging Technologies Officer, Orange County, Florida 
  • Bob Wilhelm, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, University of Nebraska Lincoln 

Student Success Fund

($1.5 Million Recurring)

The Student Success Fund seeks proposals that will increase the retention, progression, graduation, and career success of UCF students.

Proposals need to clearly identify expected impact and return on investment for the university, describe expected outcomes, and provide a timeline for implementation. Proposals that improve 4-year graduation rates for FTIC students and 2-year graduation rates for full-time transfer students are highly encouraged.

If new hires are included as part of the proposal, they should be completed within two years (new hires in place by fall 2023).

The submission deadline closed on September 10. Proposals are under review.

Student Success Fund Review Committee

  • Michael Johnson (Chair), Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Central Florida
  • Paige Borden, Associate Provost and Chief Analytics Officer, University of Central Florida
  • Charles ‘Chuck’ Dziuban, Director, Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness, University of Central Florida
  • Mariebth Ehasz, Vice President Emerita, Student Development and Enrollment Services, University of Central Florida
  • Mike Kilbride, Executive Chief of Staff, University of Central Florida
  • Austin Wilson, Student Body Vice President, University of Central Florida

Frequently Asked Questions

Strategic Investment Program

Include a high-level overview of the proposal. Use plain language, avoid jargon. The full proposal will be uploaded as a separate attachment.

No, however the application has requirements you must follow. The proposal should be no more than three pages (10-point type or larger) plus required information in the online form, including dollar amount requested, match provided, if any, and the individual(s) and unit(s) contributing to the proposal. The applications are submitted online through InfoReady. 

Yes. There is no limit as to the number of proposals that can be submitted per fund or in total.

No. Overhead is not charged for this program.

The indication of support is built into the online application. In the application field “List the Dean(s), Vice Provost(s), or Vice President(s) who may approve indicating support”, please specify who may approve the application overall and any matching funds (if provided). They will be contacted after submission to confirm/approve.  

No, but a dollar-to-dollar match would help strengthen a proposal.

No. Letters of support are not desired. If you have information on a match committed, collaborator’s endorsement, or department/college support you would like to include, explain it in the body of the proposal.

Questions about proposal content should be directed to Juan Lugo (Juan.Lugo@ucf.edu or 407-823-4533). Questions about the online proposal submission process should be directed to Joshua Roney (Joshua.Roney@ucf.edu or 407-882-0007).

Process, Criteria and Evaluation

Submitting a Proposal

Each of the three funds has an online submission page (see below). The application consists of a proposal of no more than three pages (10-point type or larger) plus required information in the online form, including dollar amount requested, match provided, if any, and the individual(s) and unit(s) contributing to the proposal. (In some cases, contributing members are defined by U.S. News & World Report or by NSF HERD.) Approval indicating support from the appropriate dean(s), vice provost(s), or vice president(s) is required. Proposals should be clear and concise, written in simple language that is understandable by a layperson. Jargon, detailed technical explanations, and citations are neither expected nor desired.

Criteria: Defining Impact and Return on Investment

Strong proposals will demonstrate a substantial impact to the university and define a return on investment that aligns with our goal of becoming the leading public metropolitan research university. Impact and return on investment will come in various forms, including but not limited to:

  • Improving existing areas of excellence to gain national reputation or improve ranking
  • Producing graduates in areas that are important for future regional economic development
  • Creating new or improving existing industrial partnerships
  • Increasing UCF’s ability to address some of society’s greatest challenges
  • Increasing contract and grant funding
  • Increasing philanthropic funding

Preference will be given to proposals that:

  • Include a concise and compelling explanation of the expected impact and return on investment
  • Describe existing strengths supporting the proposal, including total current recurring expenditures
  • Demonstrate how the interdisciplinary nature of the project will benefit more than one part of the university

Proposal Evaluation

The funds will have separate review committees appointed by the president and provost. Review committees may include academic leadership, administrative leadership, and industry partners. The committee for each fund, using these criteria and additional program-specific criteria below, will make recommendations to the president and provost for final approval.