Office of the Provost funds five innovative, interdisciplinary initiatives
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The University of Iowa Office of the Provost has selected the inaugural recipients of the annual Provost Investment Fund (PIF). The fund allocates up to $300,000 over the course of three years to support and incentivize innovative, aspirational, and interdisciplinary academic initiatives. After receiving 23 proposals, the Council of Deans recommended five to Sue Curry, interim executive vice president and provost, who selected the recipients.

“For a long time, we have known that the challenges we face require collaboration between disciplines and departments,” says Curry. “I am delighted to see so many colleagues embrace that collaboration and invest in future opportunities for students and faculty. Thank you to everyone who submitted.”

The recipients of the 2019 Provost Investment Fund are:

  • OpenHawks. This project will make $500 to $10,000 grants available to faculty for the purpose of creating Open Educational Resources (OERs). OERs are non-copyrighted educational materials created by faculty that can be shared free of charge with other faculty and students, replacing textbooks or other course materials.
  • Iowa Initiative for Artificial Intelligence. This initiative will increase the competitiveness and quantity of UI research that utilizes AI. The initiative will improve campus infrastructure supporting AI and will help faculty integrate AI and machine learning into research.
  • Big Ideas, Big Impact: Interdisciplinary General Education Courses. This project will expand the number of Big Ideas courses available to undergraduate students from seven to 12. Big Ideas courses at the UI are taught by three faculty who combine material from multiple disciplines on a wide-reaching subject.
  • Interdisciplinary, Scalable Solutions for a Sustainable Future. This project will provide annual seed grants to research teams in the field of sustainability that are competing for large interdisciplinary grants. It also will fund an annual workshop for students, faculty, and staff to share results of sustainability research on campus and search for new opportunities for collaboration and future research proposals.
  • Neuroscience Underlying Twice-Exceptional Talent Development. This project will support infrastructure that will facilitate new research into twice-exceptional individuals, with an emphasis on those on the autism spectrum. This will create more competitive grant applications, support interdisciplinary study on campus, and will establish new partnerships with other major talent-development centers for twice-exceptional individuals.

A call for proposals was circulated to deans and colleges in November 2018. It stipulated that successful proposals would measure success against Association of American Universities metrics or explicitly advance the university toward goals outlined in the UI Strategic Plan 2016–2021.

“I was inspired by the excellent collaborative proposals designed to enhance our core mission,” says Daniel L. Clay, dean of the College of Education. “These interdisciplinary initiatives aim to increase capacity in very important ways to benefit our teaching, research, and service.”

Proposals also were required to identify potential sources for future funding—the PIF will not support initiatives beyond three years. PIF funding will be allocated in installments, and all project leaders will be required to provide annual progress reports before receiving installments.

In addition, collegiate deans were required to discuss and vet proposals with their unit’s shared governance groups in order to be considered for PIF funding.

University deans ranked each proposal, after which the highest-ranking proposals were presented to the Council of Deans and voted on. The top five proposals were then discussed and recommended to the provost.

The following units will collaborate with each other through initiatives selected for the 2019 Provost Investment Fund.

  • Admissions
  • College of Dentistry
  • College of Education
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Law
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • College of Nursing
  • College of Public Health
  • Graduate College
  • Information Technology Services
  • Office of Outreach and Engagement
  • Office of the Vice President for Research
  • Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
  • Tippie College of Business
  • UI Libraries
  • UI Student Government
  • University College