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UB calls for Communities of Excellence concept papers


Published April 3, 2014

“The Communities of Excellence promote innovation and provide faculty with the means and support to carry out their innovative work.”
Alexander Cartwright, vice president for research and economic development

Provost Charles F. Zukoski has invited faculty to submit concept papers proposing “bold and creative” ideas for Communities of Excellence. The university is making a multi-million-dollar investment to establish up to eight communities over the next five years. 

Zukoski says that the Communities of Excellence have evolved from the university’s rigorous Realizing UB 2020 discussions of “how to invest our resources, increase our impact and distinctiveness, and meet our UB 2020 aspirations.”

“Through our conversations about UB’s future, we have committed to address the most difficult problems and questions of our time,” Zukoski says. “Large and complex issues require the collaboration of multiple disciplines and perspectives to fully address them.  The Communities of Excellence will bring together scholars from across the disciplines to address these challenges through transformative research, creative activities and engagement. Importantly, we will actively engage our students in the processes as part of their educational experience.”

In the communities, scholars from across the campus will work in teams focused on finding solutions to large-scale challenges. The areas of concern or approaches to solving them will be derived from the faculty, with a particular focus on the UB themes of humanity, justice, environment, innovation and health.

The communities will create new means for integrating educational and scholarly processes across departments, schools and degree programs. UB’s investment will vary by the needs of each community, but it is expected that these resources will be used to obtain vital instrumentation and other shared resources, provide needed infrastructure, acquire space to house a community, provide staff and student support, and/or hire new faculty. Communities also are expected to seek support from other sources.

“The Communities of Excellence promote innovation and provide faculty with the means and support to carry out their innovative work,” says Alexander N. Cartwright, vice president for research and economic development. “For example, the communities may involve Innovation Scholars — faculty members who combine excellent scholarship with creating real world impact — as key members.”

Cartwright says that UB will announce more information about the Innovation Scholars program at a later date.

All tenured and tenure-track faculty are eligible and encouraged to submit concepts for Communities of Excellence.    

The first step in the application process is the submission of a concept paper, due by April 30. According to the call for proposals, this two-page concept paper will:

  • Provide a brief description of the project.
  • Explain how it responds to a large-scale problem facing humankind and/or pushes the boundaries of human understanding.
  • Explain the community’s expected outcomes and impact.
  • Indicate how the project relates to the Realizing UB 2020 themes.
  • Target potential extramural funding sources to further support the program being proposed.

“This broad call for concepts,” explains Cartwright, “is designed to invite the best ideas for addressing grand-scale challenges while not burdening the faculty applicants with the detailed development of an entire research team or supporting structures in the initial phase.”

Teams with the strongest concepts will be invited to provide preliminary proposal presentations; the strongest of those will be invited to submit full proposals.

Communities of Excellence will be chosen by the provost based on the recommendation of both external and internal expert reviews, and will include input from the deans, vice president for research and economic development, and senior vice provost for academic affairs.

For more detailed information about the Communities of Excellence and application process, visit the Communities of Excellence website.