An overlooked option: Big 12 faculty fellowships

Faculty members seeking to continue a collaboration with a colleague at one of the other nine universities in the Big 12 athletics conference -- or perhaps hoping to launch one -- are invited to apply for a Big 12 fellowship. Over 22 years, Iowa State has provided more than 80 awards to ISU faculty. That's fewer than four awards per year.

"It's one of our most underutilized faculty professional development programs," said associate provost Dawn Bratsch-Prince. "Faculty are always looking for funding to support their endeavors, and we'd like more faculty to consider this one."

The Big 12 Faculty Fellowship program is open to all ISU faculty. The maximum award is $2,500, which is used to cover travel, lodging and meal expenses for visits typically of less than a week and sometimes just an overnight. Applications are reviewed three times per year, on the same overlapping cycle as the faculty Foreign Travel Grant program. The next deadline, for campus visits between March 1 and Oct. 31, is Friday, Jan. 31. The April 3 deadline considers visits between June 3 and Jan. 31, 2021.

What is it?

The crux of the fellowship is a visit to another Big 12 university to learn from, or collaborate with, a faculty member who has formally invited the Iowa State faculty member. The visit tends to include some combination of research activity, student interaction and perhaps a department-level research presentation.

2019-20 Big 12 Faculty Fellows

Benjamin Ahn, aerospace engineering, to U of Texas
Joey George, information systems and business analytics, to Kansas State
Kim Greder, human development and family studies, to Oklahoma State
Robyn Lutz, computer science, to U of Texas
David Peterson, political science, to U of Texas

"Sometimes that other faculty member has expertise in pedagogy, or perhaps a university has a piece of equipment or a data set that would be useful to our faculty member," Bratsch-Prince explained. "Or, if a faculty member collaborates with another faculty member at a Big 12 institution and they can agree on a timeline for a visit, this program could assist them."

A Big 12 faculty fellowship isn't intended as annual support for an established collaboration among faculty at two schools, she noted. Reciprocal visits are not a program requirement. However, Iowa State welcomes departments to invite Big 12 faculty fellows to campus, she added. The host department assists with logistics which, depending on the length of the visit, might include temporary housing, parking, office space or research space.

Senate role in selection

As with the foreign travel grant applications, the Faculty Senate's committee on recognition and development reviews all Big 12 faculty fellowship applications and provides a recommendation to the provost's office. If necessary, the committee prioritizes applications in the set. The final decision on funded applications and award sizes comes from the provost's office.

"We hope to help as many faculty as possible while maximizing the pool of funds for this program," Bratsch-Prince said.

The other member schools in the Big 12 are Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Christian (TCU), Texas Tech and West Virginia.