Early-career support program launched for Danforth faculty

Goal is to help offset COVID-19’s impact on research, scholarship, promotion

(Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

The Office of the Provost at Washington University in St. Louis recently announced the launch of a new program aimed at supporting scholarship for pre-tenure faculty impacted by COVID-19. Eligible Danforth Campus faculty members are encouraged to apply for these new benefits, which are offered in an effort to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on scholarship, research and creative activity.

“For early-career faculty, both time and resources are essential to shaping the long-term trajectory of their research, scholarship and creative practice,” said Beverly Wendland, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The pandemic has had negative impacts on this development for many, and we want to position our faculty for success. We have developed a suite of supports designed to help further the work of our early-career faculty.”

The two-year program was developed after an extensive survey of Danforth faculty conducted in fall 2021 revealed early-career faculty were having difficulty accessing research sources, finding research sites and general loss of research productivity.

“We had 271 respondents to the survey, about 38% of our total tenured and tenure-track faculty on the Danforth Campus,” said Kia Caldwell, vice provost for faculty affairs and diversity, professor of African and African-American studies and the Dean’s Distinguished Professional Scholar in Arts & Sciences.

“It gave us a good sense of what people were dealing with. Faculty have been on the front lines of supporting students and have also been caregivers for their own families at this time. They reported high rates of stress, anxiety and that they were working harder than ever to get publications out.”

The support program comprises two main components: course releases and a new grant program. Applications for course releases for spring 2023, fall 2023 and spring 2024 will be accepted, which must be approved by department chairs and deans.

Research, creative activity and publication grants ranging in amounts from $6,000 up to $50,000 are also available for qualifying Danforth faculty members.

Grant requests for fall 2022 and course release requests for spring 2023 must be made no later than May 5. Other offerings from the Office of the Provost that focus on faculty support include an upcoming writing retreat and mentoring programs.

“We really do want to support our faculty,” Caldwell said. “We care about them and want them to be successful. It’s been a very challenging time, and we want to offset as much as we can the ways our faculty might have been adversely affected during the past two years.”

For more information about the various means of support, application process and pertinent deadlines, visit the Office of the Provost webpage.

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