Call for Applications — 2021 Provost’s Early Career Cohort Fellowship Awards

Overview

We are seeking departmental applications for the 2021 Provost’s Early Career Cohort Fellowship Awards.

Our aim is to support departments in exploring new hiring models that: (1) identify candidates with early promise and talent from atypical backgrounds and (2) invest in their career development and professional growth. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to increase the number of faculty who will further UT’s critical goals of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness by attracting and hiring candidates with outstanding scholarly records, as well as knowledge and experience in the issues and practices of diversity, equity, and/or inclusion.

Ideal departmental or college/school plans should reflect creative, risky, and out-of-the-box thinking when designing recruitment and training strategies for their cohorts and should do so in a way that is suited for hiring success in their specific discipline. Applications (no more than 5 pages) are open and will be collected on a rolling basis. Applications should be submitted to the respective college/school dean; only proposals approved by deans will be reviewed. Applications will be reviewed by our office and departments will be notified within two weeks of submission.

Selected departments will recruit cohorts of one to three Early Career Fellows for a two- or three-year appointment. After that two- or three-year period, the Provost’s Office will work with the deans to ensure that at least one strategic hiring faculty line is available for a qualified candidate that fits within the department’s strategic hiring goals. The resources to fund the Provost’s Early Career Fellowships will be garnered from this future faculty line. The funding package that the Fellows ultimately receive will provide funds to cover a competitive stipend (department-dependent), fringe benefits, relocation funds, travel funds, and discretionary funds. Provost’s Early Career Fellows will participate in a postdoctoral mentoring program as part of the larger fellowship awardees community. Faculty/staff who lead recruitment and application processes and/or serve as an internal point of contact for the departmental cohorts should be rewarded in a concrete way to incentivize their commitment to the program and will be expected to be engaged as a group in conversations regarding mentoring of early career scholars.

In this model, the Provost’s Office will select participating departments to receive a Provost’s Early Career Cohort Fellowship Award to fund their Early Career Fellows. However, the participating departments will recruit, select, and mentor their own Provost’s Early Career Fellows. The Provost’s Office will complement the department’s mentoring with an Early Career Mentoring Program that will be developed for all of the participating Fellows.

Outcomes

  1. Identification of excellent candidates with outstanding scholarly records, as well as knowledge and experience in the issues and practices of diversity, equity, and/or inclusion for the department, one of which will ultimately be excellent candidates for hiring using the designated faculty line.
  2. Identification of new hiring practices for our university that increase the successful recruitment of faculty candidates with outstanding scholarly records, as well as knowledge and experience in the issues and practices of diversity, equity, and/or inclusion.
  3. Innovation of new research ideas and collaborations.
  4. Professional development of outstanding candidates who are highly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the sciences for the professoriate.

Brief Program Description

  • This program is designed to support activities that equip early career scholars with the research, scholarship, and/or creative activity and professional skills necessary to successfully undertake independent academic research and teaching at UT Austin.
  • This program will facilitate the transition of promising advanced graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and/or early pre-tenure faculty members to independent, tenure-track faculty positions at UT Austin or other research-intensive institutions.
  • All candidates must be committed to furthering UT’s critical goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • All fellows will be appointed by the Provost’s Office as “Provost’s Early Career Fellows.”
  • All Provost’s Early Career Fellows will participate in a professional development/networking program conducted by the Provost’s Office, the topics of which will include: crafting a faculty application, interviewing for faculty positions, grant funding opportunities, creativity in teaching, institutional awareness, interdisciplinary research, teaching innovations, proposal writing and entrepreneurship, tenure and promotion, mentoring and motivating graduate students, equity and inclusion in academia, research budgeting, creative thinking, etc.
  • Provost’s Early Career Fellows will be fully supported for a period of two or three years and will be provided a competitive stipend and fringe, relocation funds, ~$3K/year in travel funds, up to ~$5K/year in discretionary research funds, and the possibility of support to attend the Faculty Success Program.
  • Applications should provide clear proposals regarding the sources of travel and discretionary funds, as well as interview expenses. The Provost’s Office may provide funding assistance where warranted.
  • Faculty/staff who are leading application and coordinating efforts within the department should be rewarded in a concrete way to incentivize their commitment to the program.
  • Departments will recruit, select, and mentor their own participating Provost’s Early Career Fellows.

Differences from a traditional postdoctoral/training program

  • Designed program should be built around an academic transition plan that allows Fellows to explore individual research routes that foster development of independent ideas. A key aspect of this is ensuring that the training is diversified from but complementary to that of other members of the department.
  • Designed program should be built around Fellows that bring and/or are interested in learning skills/developing research programs for which the department is in strategic need.
  • Designed program should be constructed through utilizing pioneering creative ways to identify promising diversity candidates (at an earlier stage, when they would be attractive to other schools).
  • Designed program should maximize chances of expected outcomes (see above), especially that of ultimately hiring candidates into faculty positions.
  • Professional mentoring will be conducted by the Provost’s Office within the community of all Provost’s Early Career Fellows across the different participating departments.
  • Creative approaches that take unusual but calculated risks are strongly encouraged.
  1. Define faculty/staff lead of the departmental program and their clear roles in the coordination and management of logistics of the program at the department level.
    • Ideal candidates may be staff or tenured faculty
    • Models may include one responsible faculty, multiple faculty, and/or staff
    • Models may include summer salary or financial stipends
    • Mentoring models should include a team of multiple mentors inside and out of the department
  1. Define ideal candidates and program goals for your specific department.
    • Ideal candidates strongly contribute to university diversity, equity, and inclusion
    • Ideal candidates are at an early stage in their careers
    • Ideal candidates will have completed a doctorate or MFA
    • Ideal candidates show high promise/potential as researchers
    • Ideal candidates will strongly benefit and take advantage of a professional training program aimed to advance their growth as potential faculty members
    • Ideal candidates express commitment to beginning and/or continuing an academic career
    • Ideal candidates have independent research projects that align with the strategic vision of the recruiting UT departments and fit into fields the department is recruiting for in the last year of the fellowship
    • Ideal candidates, if ultimately hired, fulfill critical teaching and research departmental needs
  1. Design/utilize a model for recruiting ideal candidates.
    • Models may include recruitments of either or all of the following: postdoctoral associates (at any stage of their career), late-stage graduate students, and/or early-career assistant professors in other institutions (i.e. primarily teaching-oriented institutions) seeking to transition into a research-focused career
    • Models may include multiple departments, if beneficial for recruiting 
  1. Design/utilize a model for recruiting ideal candidates that are likely to stay in the department if offered a position.
    • Models may include candidates that are already hired, based on “promise/potential,” before completion of any postdoctoral training and conditional upon completing this postdoctoral mentoring program
    • Models may include funds for performing academic training activities at other institutions
  1. Design/utilize a model for fostering academic independence and/or unique professional growth activities in a way that strengthens the potential academic contribution of the Fellow to the department, if hired.
    • Models can include rotation programs in labs within UT or in labs outside of UT
    • Models can include writing groups, writing workshops, and professional coaching
  1. Design/utilize a model for successfully integrating the Provost’s Early Career Fellows into the department during their stay as fellows.
  2. Design/utilize a model for continually assessing /revising the program based on evaluation of the experiences of the fellows.
  1. Design/utilize a model for program timeline. A sample is provided below.
    • The timeline below(*) is only a representative one, covering different aspects that should be mapped out regarding recruitment, selection, and departmental mentoring of the fellows.
    • A specific timeline should be provided by departments as part of their application and in accordance to their needs.
  1. Design/utilize a model for building department commitment of resources into the program.
  • Applications should be submitted to the respective college/school dean; only proposals approved by deans will be reviewed
  • Applications (no more than 5 pages) submitted to the Provost’s Office on a rolling basis
  • Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis
  • Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and departments will be notified within two weeks of submission
Recruitment
General website with program information and application is developed (to be used in announcement) by provost October 1
Departments provide specific announcements and list of external venues where announcements could be used/visible in their fields October 15
Department Chairs send to faculty to distribute on social media, chairs send to other chairs, and faculty send to relevant groups/organizations in their fields with visibility October 15
Deans send to other connections to distribute and are encouraged to include list of HBCUs and HSIs that the Provost’s Office can provide October 15
Provost’s office works with departments to post announcements externally October 15
Postdoctoral Application
Departments develop applications September & October
Approved by Provost’s Office for posting on Provost’s website October
Applications are due to departments Open until January
Departments select cohorts Month of January
Announcement letters and phone calls are made to accepted participants First week of February
Accepted candidates notify the Provost’s Office of their decision to accept/decline position March 1
Potential second round of admits is made March 15
Program starts (June 2022)
Trainees move to campus June 3
Orientation/Kick off day June 6
Book rooms
Assessments
Draft/Edit survey
Send out survey #1
Send out survey #2
Send out survey #3
Send out survey #4
Send out survey #5
Compile information into presentations
Send out survey #1
Send out survey #2
Send out survey #3
Send out survey #4
Send out survey #5
Compile information into presentations

Additional Information

For questions about the program and process, please contact:

Dr. Lydia Contreras
Managing Director of Diversity
lcontrer@che.utexas.edu

Call for Applications (PDF)
Program Information