Changing the Grant Culture of a College

Changing the Grant Culture of a College

James E. McLean (The University of Alabama, USA) and Alanna Rochelle King Dail (Syracuse University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-857-6.ch002


In today’s environment, external support for college activities has become much more than a luxury. While the basic teaching functions are funded internally, funding the research and service components of their missions is a real challenge. Many colleges seek external sources to support these functions. However, these efforts are often inefficient unless they are addressed in a strategic manner. The purpose of this chapter is to describe the components of a successful effort to redefine the culture of a college regarding external funding. The chapter describes the components of the program, its implementation, and outcomes from both administrative and participant viewpoints. Further, data that demonstrate the overall impact of the program are provided.
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Setting The Stage

The case study reported in this chapter took place at a large, state flagship research institution in the Southeastern United States. Like most research universities, its direct mission is teaching, research, and service. However, the university describes itself as a student-centered research university with an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all people in its state. The university, through administrative support, had transitioned to a research university with all the infrastructure and logistic support usually associated with such a mission. In fact, most of its colleges and the faculty in those colleges had embraced this mission. It was clear that central administration support of a college depended, to at least some extent, on its success in implementing this component of the mission. This transition at the university had taken place over about a 30 year period.

This specific example was from its college of education that had increased its research profile through significant publication of journal articles and books by its faculty, but had not participated, to a significant degree, in the benefits of external funding. The college strived to provide teaching, research, and service that not only addressed state and regional interests but also accommodated national and international perspectives. The unit prepared practitioners committed to excellence both academically and socially based on engagement through the ongoing processes of reflection and dialogue that lie at the heart of socially-responsible, theoretically-informed, and research-based effective practice. The university has about 30,000 students and the college about 3,000 students and 100 faculty members.

This case study describes a shift from a culture that had a rather benign neglect of external funding to one that valued the opportunities that external funding provided while embracing the challenge. To implement this change, a strategic action plan was developed, focusing on increasing external funding that addressed the mission of the college. The plan included four critical elements: administrative support, appropriate policies, grant support infrastructure, and professional development. These four components provided a framework for action to increase external funding. First, we present some of the literature upon which our plan was based. Next, we explain the four elements of the strategic action plan and discuss their implementation at our college. Special emphasis is placed on the roles of the administration and the participation of faculty members. Finally, we describe the results of our plan. We conclude with implications for other colleges.

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