MSU spartan helmet logo

Empowering the research and creative activity of our faculty is at the heart of our efforts to raise the profile of the College and the University. Our approach is designed to help faculty envision and chart a path to intellectual leadership in their fields of study. Drawing on our successes in this regard last year, we will continue to invest in the Faculty Summer Fellowship Program and our Domain of One’s Own initiative, and we will advance our efforts to recruit and retain faculty from traditionally underrepresented groups through an innovative Artist in Residence Program and our Critical Diversity in a Digital Age cluster hire.

The goal of the Faculty Summer Fellowship Program Summer is to foster the intellectual development of faculty, increase sponsored research activity in the College of Arts & Letters, and facilitate faculty efforts to achieve national and international prominence in their disciplines. The priorities of the program are to support the growth and development of junior and mid-career faculty, to fund promising innovative research and creative activity, and to support projects that are likely to be competitive for external resources.

Last year, we had 37 applications, 24 of which were funded. We are tracking the results of the fellowships this year to determine whether the return on our significant investment justifies continuing investment in the future. Based on outcome reports that were required in early fall, initial results are promising . The majority of the grants were awarded to junior and mid-career faculty members and were used by both groups productively to build their RPT dossiers . Additionally, the fellowships led to the preparation or submission proposals for NEH, NIH and NSF grants and other significant funding opportunities. Due to its encouraging launch in 2016, we decided to continue the program in 2017 and have received 24 proposals that are currently undergoing review.

Michigan State University’s land-grant mission mandates the public accessibility of the scholarship and creative activity produced by our faculty. Our Domain of One’s Own initiative is designed to empower faculty to consider how to use new modes of digital communication to cultivate community around their scholarship. This strategy, addressed in more detail below in the section on Advancing Quality Through Digital Scholarship and Pedagogy, is undertaken in collaboration with the Office of Communication and Brand Strategy to increase the exposure, impact and engagement with the creative scholarship of our faculty. Here too we continue to monitor the results of our efforts to ensure that they are raising the visibility of our faculty over time.

Excellence in arts and humanities research and creative activity requires recruiting, hiring and retaining the very best faculty from traditionally underrepresented groups. Strategic hiring continues to be an important part of our efforts in this regard . This year, we are undertaking two bold initiatives that should advance our attempts to diversify the faculty. The Critical Diversity in a Digital Age cluster hire will begin with three senior digital humanities scholars — one in English; one in Writing, Rhetoric, and American Culture; and one in History (partnering with the College of Social Science), whose work addresses the intersection of digital theory and practice with issues of social justice and human difference. As the digital humanities community continues to wrestle with issues of inclusion and diversity, the DH program at Michigan State University has embraced critical diversity as the very lens through which we will pursue work in the digital humanities. This should position us as the place for innovative scholars from traditionally underrepresented groups to study and work.

In addition to this cluster hire in digital humanities, we are investing in a Visiting Artist in Critical Race Studies program designed to bring to campus noted contemporary artists and designers who engage critically with race in their creative practice. Working closely with the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the Department of Art, Art History, and Design is leading this effort to bring three visiting artists to campus for a year both to enrich our engagement with questions of race through art and design, and also to better position us to recruit artists interested in such issues to the University. In this regard, we hope to leverage fixed-term faculty positions as a pipeline for more permanent faculty hiring in this area.