Cluster Hiring Initiative Criteria and Proposals

The main goal of the centrally funded Cluster Hiring Initiative is to support faculty hiring, and it is expected that the majority of requested funds in proposals will be used for the recruitment and hiring of faculty. Successful, already existing clusters may also submit proposals to replace a departed cluster colleague; such requests will go through the same process as proposals for new clusters.

All proposals – regardless of whether they are made by individual faculty members, departments, research centers, or deans – must involve consultation with the relevant units, schools and colleges, and provide evidence of that consultation.

Cluster Hire Criteria

Groups of individual faculty, research centers or schools/colleges can submit a proposal for a cluster hire.

Cluster hire proposals should typically meet the following criteria. Proposals that vary from these criteria should explain why and how funding will be provided for any additional costs that might be accrued.

Hiring of Three Individuals

1. Proposal should request the hiring of three individuals, typically across different university units. These individuals should have overlapping, but distinct, research interests in an area of important current or future research interest at UW-Madison. There should be other faculty at the university in, or close to, this research area who currently interact with each other and who the newly hired cluster faculty will complement. The proposal should address both how the newly hired cluster faculty will interact with one another and with current faculty.

2. The three individuals should either be all faculty at the assistant professor level, or two faculty at the assistant professor level and one at the associate or full professor level. Proposals may also include an academic staff research scientist who meets the criteria for either senior scientist rank or permanent PI status if the reasons for this are clearly described. Scientists will receive central funding for one-half the cost of the position for a period of six years, with the remainder of the costs being borne by the school/college/unit. For faculty and staff members hired under the program, all other applicable HR policies governing appointment and tenure will apply.

Interdisciplinary Research Area

3. Proposals should identify how the area of research focus is interdisciplinary, and why it is not likely to emerge through normal departmental structures; the potential impact of the cluster’s work; and how the faculty hired in the cluster will draw together others on campus in the area of focus.

Budget up to $500K

4. Proposals should outline a budget of no more than $500K. Any proposal that requires funding above $500K should make clear how the excess costs will be covered and by which units. To ensure the program remains within budget, some cluster salary budgets will be less than the standard $500,000 salary limit.

Funding Details

Salary Costs

For the first six years (five years for faculty hired with tenure), the initial salary costs of new hires in each cluster will be fully covered by central funds. Any salary increases over this time period should be covered by the units involved. After the initial funding period, the initial salary costs will be split 70:30 with the involved units (central funding covering 70 percent of the salary cost, with the units covering the remaining 30 percent). Units will be asked to continue to cover any future salary increases.

Start-up Funding

Start-up funding is not included in the new centrally funded cluster allocation; these funds should be sought through the normal process.  All proposals – regardless of whether they are made by individual faculty members, departments, research centers, or deans – must involve consultation with the relevant units, schools and colleges and provide evidence of that consultation, typically through letters of support.

Submitting a Proposal

This year the program has a two-stage proposal process: a two-page pre-proposal, and – for pre-proposals that advance – a full proposal.

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Pre-Proposal Components and Review Process

Pre-proposals should be no more than two pages in length (double-sided on a single page), and should include the following:

  1. The title of the proposed cluster and the names of the individuals advancing the proposal. One individual must be designated as the contact person for the proposed cluster, and that individual’s should be indicated.
  2. A description of the area of research and why it is highly promising/important for UW to have greater strength in this area.
  3. A description of the three proposed hires and the range of departments and/or centers in which they might be located in the university. Indicate existing strength at UW in this research area and how these new hires will complement and deepen the faculty expertise already at UW in this area, or how the hires will create strength in a new area of research. Indicate also how these hires have the potential to complement/strengthen the faculty in the units in which they are to be hired, and how they are envisioned to work together.
  4. A description of how the proposed hires will complement, enhance, or create new areas in the teaching in the departments in which they will be hired.
  5. A description of the opportunity for faculty hired in this area to bring in additional research funding.
  6. A description of how the cluster hires have the potential to add diversity to the campus community, and what efforts will be made in the hiring process to recruit a diverse pool of candidates, and to retain them once they are hired.

Pre-Proposal Review

Pre-proposals will be reviewed by the Provost’s Executive Group, the divisional associate vice chancellors for research and graduate education, and the Deans’ Council. Reviews will be expedited so that those making pre-proposals that are identified to advance to the full proposal stage will be notified by early November.

Full Proposal Components and Review Process

Full proposals should be no longer than eight pages in length including narrative and budget. (The cover sheet and letters of support do not count as part of the page total.) Each full proposal should include the following:

  1. A cover sheet that includes the title of the proposed cluster and the names of the individuals advancing the proposal. One individual must be designated as the contact person for the proposed cluster, and that individual’s contact information should be included on the cover sheet.
  2. A description of the area of research and why it is highly promising/important for the university to have new or greater strength in this area.
  3. A description of the three proposed hires and the range of departments and/or centers in which they might be located in the university. Indicate existing strength at UW in this research area and how these new hires will complement and deepen the faculty expertise already at UW in this area, or how the hires will create strength in a new area of research. Indicate also how these hires have the potential to complement/strengthen the faculty in the units in which they are to be hired, and how they are envisioned to work together.
    • For proposals that involve the replacement of faculty in currently-existing clusters, an assessment of the relative success of the cluster that addresses faculty turnover in the cluster; the cluster’s continued innovation; the extent to which the cluster has been successful in garnering extramural funding; the cluster’s sustainability projected over five years.
  4. A description of how the proposed hires will complement or enhance education (curriculum), teaching, or outreach in their respective departments.
  5. A description of the opportunity for faculty hired in this area to bring in additional research funding.
  6. A proposed budget for the first five years for this cluster hire, with expected salary costs for each of the individuals you wish to see hired. Indicate the sources of any funds coming from outside the cluster hire program.
  7. A description of how the cluster hires have the potential to add diversity to the campus community. Detail a strategy to recruit a diverse pool of candidates and describe plans to retain the cluster hires.
  8. Preliminary indication(s) of support from department(s), centers or units in which new faculty are likely to be hired. (While it’s recognized that at the proposal stage departmental fit is not a certainty, proposers should show that they have done their due diligence in finding support at the unit level.)
  9. If any of these individuals will be affiliated with a research center, a letter from the director of this research center, supporting the proposed hiring.

Proposals will be reviewed by a Cluster Advisory Committee, a faculty committee appointed by the Provost; final decisions will be made by the Provost and the VCRGE.  Notification of the cluster proposals which have been successful will be sent in the late spring or early summer.

Full Proposal Review and Approval

Full proposals will be reviewed by the Cluster Advisory Committee, a faculty-majority committee appointed by the provost; final decisions will be made by the provost and the vice chancellor for research and graduate education.

Notification of successful proposals will be sent in late spring or early summer.

Round 4 Proposal Deadlines

Pre-Proposals

Friday October, 18, 2019

Full Proposals

Friday, January 31, 2020

Proposals should be submitted to the Office of the Provost at provost@provost.wisc.edu by 4pm on the respective dates.

Questions?

Please review the
FAQ page.

If you still have questions, please contact:
Michael Bernard-Donals
Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff
Office of the Provost
michael.bernarddonals@wisc.edu
608-262-5246