Who can propose a cluster?
Any group of faculty may propose a cluster. The cluster must include faculty from two or more CoE departments, with a designated cluster leader. The cluster leader does not need to be an Engineering faculty member, but all requested positions must be in Engineering. Clusters can also include non-Engineering faculty.
What makes a strong proposal?
A strong proposal will identify gaps in existing faculty expertise and foster interdisciplinary research in innovative and exciting fields of study. In addition, it will have department buy-in, have plans to ensure equitable searches and attract diverse faculty, and outline plans to provide mentorship and team building for the cluster.
Can the proposal include faculty from outside the College of Engineering?
Faculty from outside the College of Engineering can participate in the proposal. However, all hires will be within engineering departments.
How many hires can be proposed in a cluster, and can a proposal have multiple hires in one department?
There is no limit on how many hires can be included in a proposal, and multiple hires in a department can be proposed. However, every hire included in a proposal may not be approved. In addition, hiring may be spread across multiple years. Final number of hires will depend on Provost approval and availability of proviso funds.
Should budgetary requests be included in the proposal?
The initial proposals do not need to include detailed budget plans. Proposals must identify any unusual startup costs and/or resource needs, if they are known.
Do department chairs need to provide letters of support for the proposal?
Department chairs do not need to provide letters of support for the initial proposal submission. The department chairs will review proposals that have advanced to the second stage. At that point, the chairs will provide feedback and describe to the dean how specific proposals fit into their department strategic research and hiring initiatives, educational plans, and growth needs.
What is the composition of the review committee?
The proposal review committee will be comprised of CoE faculty who are not submitting proposals.
What will the search process look like for cluster faculty?
The cluster participants are expected to serve on the hiring committees of their respective departments. The chair of the committee should be a department faculty member who is not a participant in the cluster, with a possible co-chair from the cluster. The committee should also include faculty members who are not cluster participants to ensure departmental buy-in and engagement in the hiring process. Cluster hiring search committees are required to follow best practice guidelines provided by the Dean’s office to help ensure equitable and inclusive searches and diverse candidate pools.
Can we provide letters of support from industry, UW departments, or other organizations?
Letters of support are not allowed as part of the proposal. Interest from other organizations should be discussed within the body of the proposal text.
How will proposals be evaluated?
Proposal evaluation will occur in three stages. In the first stage, a faculty evaluation committee will review proposals based on an established rubric and make recommendations to the dean. The dean may then choose from existing proposals or invite more proposal submissions.
A subgroup of proposals will advance to the second stage where department chairs and the faculty at large will have the opportunity to review all proposals and presentations. Department chairs will provide feedback and describe to the dean how specific proposals fit into their strategic research and hiring initiatives, educational plans, and growth needs. Based on the feedback of the committee and the chairs, the dean will select final proposals to move forward to hiring.
What opportunities are there to find potential cluster proposal collaborators?
Due to current public health guidelines, we do not plan to hold any in-person brainstorming or teaming events during this cycle. Faculty seeking collaborators for their proposals are asked instead to fill out a short questionnaire to indicate their interest in submitting a proposal, and requesting support with finding potential collaborators.
In the fall and winter, Vice Dean Jihui Yang will hold several virtual cluster hiring office hours, which faculty can attend to ask questions about the process, indicate their interest in a proposal topic, or request information about potential collaborators.
These office hours will be held on Tuesday, December 1, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. and Wednesday, January 13, from 9:00-10:00 a.m. Connection information will be sent out closer to the dates.
How will the current budget uncertainty impact the cluster hiring process?
We are working closely with our UW State Relations Office and the Office of Planning and Budgeting to ensure that our current Proviso remains fully funded, and anticipate additional budget clarity by early 2021. In the case in which our current Proviso is impacted by a budget reduction, we anticipate a phased hiring process, or perhaps a shift in the timing of searches.
Despite the budget uncertainty, the cluster hiring proposal process remains a valuable endeavor. We have seen increased collaboration and proposals for large center grants from the teams that submitted proposals in the last round. We will provide more information about the budget as we receive it, and are committed to moving forward with this important hiring initiative in the meantime.