Last year, we set an ambitious goal to quadruple our annual externally sponsored research and award production from $3 million in 2015 to $12 million by 2020. We made significant progress toward this goal over the past year, increasing our total external award output from $3.1 million to $5.1 million. In order to build upon and sustain this level of growth in sponsored research, we are bringing the Office of Research together with the Office of Graduate Education under the Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research. Recognizing that the mission of our graduate programs is tightly connected with that of the research endeavor, this restructuring will provide the institutional infrastructure to support sustained growth in sponsored research and the ongoing adoption of innovative practices in graduate education.
This restructuring also involves the reorganization of our research centers in the College of Arts & Letters. The directors of our 10 research centers/labs — Writing, Information, and Digital Experience (WIDE); Matrix; Center for Interdisciplinarity; Digital Humanities Literary Cognition Lab (DHLC); Center for Language Education and Research (CLEAR); Center for Language Teaching Advancement CeLTA); Sociolinguistics Lab; EEG Lab; Language Acquisition Lab; and the Eyetracker Lab — will now report up to the Dean through the Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research. This will enable us to drive strategic planning and development to ensure that our research mission dovetails with and advances our academic objective to create a culture of inclusive excellence in research and pedagogy.
We have had some success this year advancing the quality of our graduate programs through two strategic initiatives: the College of Arts & Letters Scholars Recruitment Fellowship program and the External Funding Incentives program. The CAL Scholars program provides flexible recruitment funding packages to ensure that our offers are competitive with our most well-resourced aspirational peers. This year, we were able to attract six high-quality Ph.D. and M.F.A. recruits from traditionally underrepresented groups with competitive offers from other schools in Philosophy (1), English (1), RCS (1), WRAC (2) and AAHD (1), using the new CAL Scholars recruitment funding . In all, seven of the nine programs in CAL held recruitment events with matching funds from the Dean’s office, resulting in one of our most diverse recruitment classes ever.
Our External Funding Incentive program provides graduate students with a $500 incentive to submit a proposal for external research support to programs pre-approved by the College. We had nine students apply for major grant or fellowship funding in 2015-16, roughly double the number reported last year by program directors. Of these, one student from Philosophy was awarded a three-year Ford Foundation Fellowship, which will cover her GA expenses. A student from SLS also won a fellowship that brought a semester’s worth of support. Our return on our investment for last year was 16:1; we invested a total of $4,500 and received $73,400 in awards. Thus far in Fall 2016, we have awarded six incentives. Applications are for agencies and foundations that include Fulbright, NSF, ACLS and Ford . So we are off to a strong(er) start in 2016-17.
In an effort to advance the stature of Michigan State University as a center of Digital Humanities Scholarship in Critical Diversity, we are partnering with the MSU Libraries and the HUB for Innovative in Learning and Technology to facilitate the creation of a Digital Scholarship Lab that would enable us to bring digital scholarship in the arts and humanities that is currently dispersed across campus together into a dynamic, innovative new lab for faculty and graduate and undergraduate students in the Library.
These strategic initiatives to support faculty and elevate the research and scholarly productivity of the College are tied tightly to our efforts to strengthen the quality of the undergraduate education we offer.