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Elevate Transdisciplinary Excellence for Global Impact and Well-Being

Graduate Research Funding We have a sustainability model that ensures graduate education enrollment and costs are well-managed and that our programs are focused on student success. Program performance and our overall financial footing are both quite sound. We have outstanding completion rates and a time to degree across all our PhD programs that is years less than the national average. More than 90% of Ph.D. students are on track to finish their degree in less than six years. And we do not struggle to place students. Our programs graduate and send students forward to their next career step (in a job, on to another program or post doc) reliably. This bucks the trends one hears in the higher education community about graduate programs in the arts and humanities.  

Indeed, we operate graduate education in CAL not as a cost center but as a net contributor to the general fund by a substantial margin. We request a mutually beneficial increase in our allocation for graduate programs that will ensure student success as well as significant financial return. 

MSU Arts Strategy – As Michigan State University develops a coordinated approach to an Arts Strategy that would place the arts at the heart of the University’s land-grant mission, the College is taking a proactive leadership role in shaping the engaged university of the 21st century. The arts offer creative ways of knowing that are integral to the mission of the University, both in themselves and in reciprocal connection with scientific, humanistic, and professional practices. 

The College has established the Dean’s Arts Advisory Council (DAAC) to advise the Dean on Arts Initiatives, to elevate the profile of the arts, and to integrate the arts into the research mission of the University through strategic collaboration. College leadership met with Barb Kranz and Eric Boatman to articulate the pressing needs for facilities improvements for the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. We shared a program needs assessment with Barb and Eric that will shape conversations around space moving forward. We also charged a new College Arts Strategy Committee, composed of administrative leaders and art practitioners from across the College, to facilitate the implementation of the MSU Arts Strategy in collaboration with the Residential College for Arts and Humanities, the College of Music, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, the University Libraries and the Provost’s Office.  

Ethics at MSU – The MSU Ethics Institute will advance innovative research, pedagogy, and thought leadership in ethics. The Institute will coordinate University-wide educational and research initiatives to amplify the strengths of existing applied ethics centers and foster the growth of new centers on campus. Led by the College of Business, the College of Law, and the College of Arts & Letters, the Institute is designed to support the growth of existing initiatives and foster the development of new college-level or discipline-based endeavors. This effort began with a $25K gift from Farrehi Family Foundation, which we used to plan and fund the 2021 MSU Ethics Symposium. A $2M seed gift was received at the symposium to begin launching this endeavor. There is a potential to garner $50M in private funding to sustain the creation of an Ethics Institute that focuses on leading-edge research in ethical theory and practice. The College of Arts & Letters and the College of Human Medicine have been working together to reimagine the role of the Center for Bioethics and Social Justice within the context of the emerging MSU Ethics Institute as a catalyst for a broadly conceived and highly participatory health effort with energetic outreach to communities and a specific focus on health disparities and inequity. We were very happy to have Sean Valles, Professor of Philosophy, named as the new Director of The Center for Bioethics and Social Justice. In 2020, the College of Arts & Letters and the College of Human Medicine were awarded a $3.75M grant by the NIH for research focused on decreasing cardiovascular disease risk morbidity and mortality for minority and low-income populations with diabetes mellitus. 

Toolbox Dialogue Initiative (TDI) – During the time of pandemic has been the success of the Center for Interdisciplinarity (C4I) which has, over the last two years, attracted $1.5 million in external funding with the majority coming from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF has funded several collaborative projects through C4I and its Toolbox Dialogue Initiative. Funding also has been provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as well as foundations, partner universities, and MSU sources. This success testifies to the central importance of the arts and humanities in leading transdisciplinary research. Their work has contributed to projects worth over $1 Billion dollars in the last 4 years, helping to make those projects more successful and competitive for federal funding. Just this past January 2022, TDI began with a new service center within MSU’s College of Arts & Letters, a one-of-a-kind organization that provides philosophically based capacity-building services to research and practice groups locally, nationally, and internationally. With this transition, we would hope to see more MSU PIs working to make their own proposals more competitive by integrating TDI methods for advancing team science. 

MESH/DH and the MSU LibrariesMESH is a collaborative effort of the MSU College of Arts & Letters  and the MSU Libraries focused on the futures of digital scholarly publishing. MESH focuses on research and development in digital scholarly communication, an area in which MSU can become a national and international leader. MESH is a collaborative, agile, open-source team that supports the growth of both the developer and the community facilitation networks needed to develop and sustain the platforms and tools that will comprise the 21st scholarly research and communication ecosystem. Since 2020, MESH has secured a total of $1.5M in grant funding through the NEH and the Mellon Foundation.   

Research – The College’s research activity has grown during the pandemic. The total grant proposals submitted in AY 2020-21 rose considerably over previous years. In AY 2019-20 we had 59 proposals in the period between May and September, including applications to the HARP program. In AY 2020 we had 54, not including 30 for HARP (deadline for HARP was moved back this year to November 2020). The dollar amounts sought in the two years also tells a tale of far more ambitious and complex proposals. In AY 2019 the total was more than $11M across 59 proposals from May-Sept. In 2020, the total was about $19M across 54 proposals. Through the remainder of the Fall semester, we saw the total rise an additional $7.5M for an increase of about 140% over the same period last year. Gender of PIs and co-PIs on grants has been remarkably balanced across both years. Distribution of participation by rank is like prior years. It reflects the volume of people at each rank for the TS faculty (with associates being the highest) and tracks with those roles who are rewarded for proposal activity (I.e., less activity for NT faculty and academic staff with teaching and learning and/or admin roles). We anticipate that our productivity will remain high on a per-faculty basis, but the number of TS faculty from whom we can expect research productivity is shrinking.