Twenty Frequently Asked Questions

on the unbounded possibilities initiative

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1. What is the unbounded possibilities initiative?

The unbounded possibilities initiative is a mechanism by which investment is made in areas of current or potential strength, that meet societal needs, and that help to bring positive external notoriety to the university.

2. Why are we doing this?

Society needs higher education more than ever. Yet, our institutions are not always optimally able to respond to those needs via the mechanisms and structures we have created to conduct our work. Other institutions have been particularly effective at building a culture that recognizes the advantages of building collaborations across units and disciplines and leveraging that for institutional mission and vision advancement. Some examples can be found under the resources link on this website. Indiana State University can be a leader in this way as well. All benefit from this kind of distinction.

3. How will it be implemented?

The initiative will be implemented via a competitive funding process that starts with a campus engagement and idea development phase that culminates in the submission and evaluation of concept papers. The authors/project leaders of the most promising concept papers will then be invited to develop full proposals.

4. How does this fit into the broader goals of ISU’s strategic plan?

The purpose of the Pathway to Success strategic plan for Indiana State University is to achieve the ISU vision, namely a shared commitment to improving our communities as a means of becoming nationally known for our academic, cultural, and research opportunities. This ensures the success of our people and work. Institutional distinctiveness is a natural byproduct of the effort behind the strategic plan’s implementation.

5. Why should I consider becoming involved?

Pride in your work and that of others, desire to make a difference, and the possibilities for ISU’s future.

6. How is unbounded possibilities different than the previous initiative, distinctive programs?

While still enabling existing departments and programs to be eligible for support, this new process also emphasizes collaborations that cross traditional disciplinary or institutional boundaries, a mechanism that has proven especially effective at other institutions for enhancing institutional quality and external recognition. The new process also places a strong emphasis on projects that start with a clear external need in mind with a plan for how that need will get addressed. Finally, the resources available the last time were $1.75 million in one-time funds over five years while this process involves $5 million over five years but with the potential that at least some of those resources would be base, or recurring funding.

7. How much money is designated for the unbounded possibilities and when are the due dates for proposal submissions?

As noted above, there is $5 million in funding over 5 years, approximately $1.5 million envisioned to be allocated in the first year. However, since base funding will be considered, the overall funding for this initiative will likely be greater. Concept papers are due March 31, 2011 with those selected to submit full proposals due September 19, 2011. Although there are no current plans for a second round of proposals, that decision will depend on the quantity and nature of the projects supported through the initial round and the budgetary commitments made.

8. Will an existing program of distinction have an advantage for funding in the unbounded possibilities initiative?

No, an existing program of distinction has no inherent advantage for funding through unbounded possibilities, although they, like other parts of the campus, may see opportunities within the new process. All initiatives advanced through unbounded possibilities will be considered on an equal basis and assessed using the same evaluative criteria.

9. Are existing programs of distinction at a disadvantage in the unbounded possibilities process if they were not invited to submit a proposal for funding from the residual Lilly Endowment funds?

As noted under #8 above, all programs are eligible to be a part of unbounded possibilities in some way with the likelihood of funding a function of the quality of the initiative proposal and match with the criteria.

10. Are there any current or in-the-works initiatives that have already been decided will get funding through this process?

No. Although there are a number of initiatives underway at ISU that might have potential for support through the through unbounded possibilities process, none have been pre-ordained or been anointed to receive funding from these resources.

11. Will non-participating programs or units be hurt in any way by not engaging in this process?

ISU cannot achieve its vision and enact its mission without the contributions of programs and units all across campus, irrespective of whether or not they are a participant in some way in the unbounded possibilities initiative.

12. Who is eligible to participate? For example, is it limited to just academic units?

Although academic units are envisioned to be the central participant in this initiative, non-academic units could likely be a partner.

13. Will there be proposal development funds available?

Yes, for those invited to develop full proposals based upon their concept paper. Full proposal project teams will be eligible for up to $4,000 in proposal development funds. These resources are envisioned to support idea development, to facilitate visits to other institutions/organizations to explore possible models, and to engage experts/consultants. Stipends for authors/project leaders will not be funded. Proposal development resources will be provided upon receipt of proposal development work plans, including envisioned line item expenditures.

14. How will the resources be allocated to funded initiatives?

A strategic plan with detailed actions steps and a 5-year budget will be expected as part of a full proposal submission. Funds will be allocated annually and projects reviewed annually for the following year’s funding consideration.

15. To whom will collaborative initiatives be accountable? A college? Centrally?

Projects will always be accountable to their home units, but depending on the nature of the initiative, a formal structure may be created for joint college accountability and/or directly to Academic Affairs.

16. What is in place to maximize initiative sustainability?

Base funding will be available through this initiative, although a high expectation will also be placed on leveraging external funding.

17. How will we know if an initiative is successful?

The strategic plans expected in funding proposals must include goals/objectives and benchmark indicator measures tied to dates. Funded initiatives will be evaluated every year based upon these measures as well as appropriate other accountability expectations, including an external evaluation and those associated with proper fiscal management.

18. Will those in the arts and humanities be able to participate?

Absolutely and they are encouraged to do so. A number of universities have established distinction through the arts and humanities, for example, sometimes when linked to quality of life initiatives and at other times as a component of other institutional teaching, scholarship, or service goals.

19. Who will be evaluating the proposals?

Concept papers will be evaluated internally via a Faculty Senate appointed committee, the Dean’s Council, and the DPOC. Furthermore, the concept papers will be presented at an open community forum. Recommendations for selection of those to be invited to submit full proposals will be made to the Provost and President.

Full proposals will be evaluated both internally and externally. The internal review will consist of a Faculty Senate appointed committee, the Dean’s Council, a panel of Caleb Mills and Theodore Dreiser Award winners, and the DPOC. An external panel of 3-4 persons with respected experience leading/managing development initiatives such as these will also be identified and invited to campus for an open community presentation by proposal teams. Recommendations for selection of initiatives to fund will be made to the Provost and President.

20. How transparent will the reviews be for the new process?

Reviews of full proposals will be posted to a publicly accessible website and the entire community is welcome to attend the concept paper and full proposal presentations.

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