Cluster and Interdisciplinary Hiring Initiative

Background

Over the past few years, UT Austin has made significant progress to strengthen interdisciplinary research and scholarship efforts. Through a combination of the work already occurring in the colleges and schools, and reinforced by the UT Pop-up Institutes and Bridging Barriers, our campus is experiencing considerable interdisciplinary research and scholarship momentum.

To supplement this work, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost is launching the Cluster and Interdisciplinary Hiring Initiative. It is designed to extend collaborative research and scholarship by authorizing up to 40 new faculty hires whose interdisciplinary areas of knowledge cross the boundaries of existing academic departments.
 

Goals and Objectives

The Cluster and Interdisciplinary Hiring Initiative aims to supplement departmentally-based hiring practices and norms. In essence, the initiative will facilitate interdisciplinary strategic hiring by providing full salary support for new faculty positions.

The initiative’s goals include:

  • Enabling the campus to devote a critical mass of faculty to areas of knowledge that can only be addressed across existing departmental structures.
  • Providing for new research tracks and collaborative opportunities.
  • Addressing difficult contemporary problems.
  • Encouraging and fostering cooperation among an already strong faculty and staff research body.
  • Assisting with the fulfillment of other priorities of the university, particularly increasing campus diversity.
     

Funding

Salary costs for the hires will be entirely covered by central resources. Future salary increases will be covered by the hiring units. Start-up funding will be covered as a partnership between the provost's office and the hiring units.

Proposal Process

The proposal process occurs in three stages. Groups of individual faculty, research centers, ORUs, Pop-Up Institutes, or colleges/schools can submit a proposal for a cluster hire.

Stage 1 — Proposal Submission — Due February 1, 2019

Submit a single, four-page PDF document that includes:

  1. Title page (one page) including a descriptive title of the proposed cluster, and a list of the individuals advancing the proposal. One individual must be designated as the contact person for the proposed cluster, and that individual’s contact information should be included on the cover sheet, including email and telephone number.  
     
  2. Concept paper (two pages), that includes:
     
    1. The area of research and why it is highly promising, important, and feasible for UT to have greater strength in this area. In other words, please explain “why UT and why now.”
       
    2. Description of the proposed tenured or tenure-track hires (up to four) and the range of departments and/or centers in which they might be located. Indicate existing strength at UT in this research area and how these new hires will complement and deepen the faculty expertise already at UT, or how the hires will create strength in a new area of research. Indicate also how these hires have the potential to complement/strengthen the faculty in the units in which they are to be hired. The proposal should also indicate what resources already exist and how those will contribute to this area. Any additional funds coming from outside the cluster hire program should be indicated.
       
    3. Description of the opportunity for faculty hired in this area to enhance the university's national reputation, extend the university's impact, and/or bring in additional research funding.
       
    4. Description of how the cluster hires have the potential to add diversity to the campus community, and what efforts will be made in the hiring process to recruit a diverse pool of candidates.
       
  3. Budget (one-page) including anticipated salary and start-up costs for each hire. If the proposed hires are to be considered across rank, please provide anticipated costs at the different hiring levels.
     

Proposal Review
Proposals will be reviewed by the Cluster Advisory Committee, a committee appointed by the executive vice president and provost that will be comprised of faculty and administrators. That committee's recommendations will be forwarded to the provost, the vice president for research, and the dean of the Graduate School who will decide which proposals move forward to Stage 2.
 

Stage 2 — Additional Information Requested — Due April 1, 2019

In Stage 2, teams will be asked to submit additional information. Examples of additional information may include, but is not limited to, responses to questions raised by the Cluster Advisory Committee; letters of endorsement from academic leadership (e.g. department chairs, deans, etc.); examples of specific, named recruitments if applicable; and bridge-funding proposals for research faculty to supplement the work of the research cluster.
 

Stage 3 — Final Decisions — May 15, 2019

Final decisions will be made by May 15, 2019.