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Trans-Institutional Programs Call for Proposals – 2014

Call for Proposals

Overview: Vanderbilt University announces the first round of competition for internal awards to support trans-institutional programs devoted to the frontiers of discovery and learning.  Trans-institutional Programs (TIPs) are a centerpiece of the 2013-14 Academic Strategic Plan.  TIPs create new and valuable knowledge by interweaving relevant perspectives, theories, methods, and information from two or more disciplines and further Vanderbilt’s core missions.  The term “trans-institutional” is intended to encompass both “interdisciplinary” and “multidisciplinary” approaches amongst colleagues across Vanderbilt’s 10 colleges and schools.  The goals of such programs:

  • Aim to identify or address problems and questions that are ambitious, innovative, and inspiring;
  • Create or extend collaborations and synergies across multiple fields, advancing the commitment to “One Vanderbilt”;
  • Position Vanderbilt to be a world leader in a given area;
  • Focus on both discovery and learning enterprises, ensuring excellence in research, scholarship, and creative expression and in the education of the whole person: enabling qualities and life-long learning for all undergraduate, professional, and graduate students
  • Speak to and address problems that resonate with the broader public.

This TIPs initiative will unfold over each of the next five years.  This multi-year process reflects a significant commitment to forge greater collaborations on important questions and problems across our entire campus.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The lead organizer of a proposal must be a tenured or tenure track member of the faculty.   Exceptions to this rule can only be granted by academic deans of the schools involved.  The lead organizer must also demonstrate a past commitment to advancing collaborative endeavors.
  • The other participants in the proposal must be full-time faculty devoted to both the discovery and learning enterprises.
  • Proposals must involve faculty from at least two Vanderbilt schools/colleges.
  • During a given review cycle, a given faculty member’s participation is limited to two proposals, only one as lead organizer.
  • All funds should support the activities of faculty and students at Vanderbilt.  Funds cannot be used to support or augment faculty salaries.
  • Participants must disclose current funding from other internal and external sources, so to provide a full account of the support available for the project.
  • For multi-year awards, continued funding is contingent on annual progress reports and reviews of that progress by the Council.

Selection Process

The recently appointed TIPs Council will be responsible for assessing the merits of proposals for funding.  This Council represents the wide range of academic interests that define our campus. To assist the Council, three review panels have been appointed that comprise of a cross section of faculty from across all the colleges.  Council recommendations about the proposals will be forwarded to university leadership for final funding consideration. Please see the myVU website for the membership of the Council and Review Panels.

Categories for Proposal Submissions

  1. Vanderbilt initiative Awards (ViA): Priority will be given to initial “incubator” phases for small-scale initiatives to be tested before advancing to a Re-investment Award (see below). This seed funding provides faculty an opportunity to launch innovative ideas for discovery and learning with colleagues from diverse disciplines. The Council and Review Panels are interested in high risk and, thus, high reward proposals.  The ViA allows opportunistic actions when new and exciting opportunities arise to address questions and to solve problems of importance to society. These programs should have the potential to become a major hub of activity in the coming years that will advance the core missions of Vanderbilt.  At the end of a successful ViA incubator phase, applications for a Vanderbilt Re-investment Award and the possible transition to a more sustainable platform will be considered.
  1. Vanderbilt Re-investment Awards (VRA): Commitments will be made to successful ViA programs (see above) or existing trans-institutional initiatives, centers or institutes (TIPs) that advance in important ways the university’s core missions. These awards should allow that group to advance to the next level, launch new activities, enhance current capabilities, and ensure continued success.  In such cases, the awardee must have normal operating costs transitioned to a sustainable platform through collaborative commitments of the respective schools/colleges/units. The TIPs program currently is planned for a five-year funding span starting July 2015. Lead organizers for the VRA application must secure partnerships with respective Deans as part of the full-proposal submission process.  The Council/Review Panels are interested in the past record of accomplishment, impact, and the breadth and depth of discovery and learning collaborations across the full campus. Evidence must also be provided for national and international leadership in the relevant areas of discovery and learning. It is recognized that the re-investment required might be highly variable dependent on the scope of activities and focus of study, and will, therefore, be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Application Process

1. Pre-proposal Submission Guidelines: Maximum three-page, single-spaced, 12 pt font.

Submission due December 2, 2014.

Decision by December 19, 2014.

  • Title Page identifying the submission and a list of those involved with titles and affiliations, and the name, affiliation, campus address, telephone number and e-mail address of the faculty member who will serve as the lead organizer.
  • Two-page clear description of the goals and significance of the trans-institutional research/scholarship/creative expression and teaching to be proposed; this must be readable and understandable by colleagues from a wide range of fields.  Highlight roles and unique synergies enabled by those involved. Offer a brief justification of the proposed budget level request and how this investment will pay dividends.

2. Updated on January 27, 2015

Invited Full Proposal Submission Guidelines: single-spaced, 12 pt font.

Submission due January 30, 2015.

Final Decisionby May 15, 2015.

Funding starts by July 1, 2015.

 Cover Page (see attached)
 5-page proposal narrative (CV and references are not required)
 Letter of support from school Dean  (only for the lead organizer, school of primary appointment)
 Budget (max 1 page)

Additional helpful information:


  • Limit listed participants to named individuals who are full-time faculty engaged in discovery (i.e. research) and learning (i.e., teaching or mentoring students).   There is no benefit to having a long list of participants.
  • The proposal itself should discuss individuals (including student, fellows, and administrators) and centers who will be significantly involved.
  • Do not create new categories of participants.
  • We are strictly enforcing the limit of faculty being involved in two proposals and no one can be PI in more than one.
  • Note the primary appointment of each participant to make it possible to see the “home” for each participant.  This is relevant to evaluating how a project will engage different parts of the university.   Proposals should not use secondary appointments as the official affiliation to make it “look” more trans-institutional.

New Centers/Programs

  • VIA proposals should involve work/projects that are valuable even if funding does not continue beyond the first two years.  Thus an investment in the creation of a new center would not be justified since the start-up money would only create a foundation necessitating continued funding.  By contrast, a proposal for new work which could be a springboard to a new center/program makes sense.  The new work/activities have independent value but the possibility of a new center (or at least a continuing TI collaboration or network) is part of what makes the project even more worthwhile.
  • VIA proposals need to be for less than 100K/per year for two years and exceptions to this rule will be both rare and require detailed justification.
  • VIA proposals need to be more than “provide us some money to meet and travel in an effort to spark innovation.”
  • Proposals should explicitly describe the foundation of the trans-institutional collaboration and what is new/exciting about the initiative.
  • Sustainability of the initiative in the form of strategic, explicit external funding opportunities should be described where feasible.  Also, metrics for the successful completion of the initiative must be provided for use by the TIPs council in evaluating future requests for support.

Where to Submit

Please submit pre-proposals to by 5pm on December 2, 2014.  Those who are invited to submit full proposals will be informed at the time of how to submit the needed documents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more on the Frequently Asked Questions page. Please email additional questions to