CLAS Excellence and Innovation Funds

Please note: During the 2020-21 academic year, these policies, procedures, and practices will move to the CLAS Policies and Procedures website. At that time, this page will be discontinued.

The CLAS Excellence & Innovation Funds are intended as nonrenewable awards to help academic units that aspire to distinction and visibility in research and graduate training. The proposals must meet three chief criteria: (1) a timely and creative concept; (2) the promise for increasing the College's and Department’s reputation and visibility within the University, the nation, and the state; and (3) a viable plan for sustaining the research or training once the Excellence & Innovation funding has ended. The proposals should be based on faculty discussions of how the department can move to the next level of quality and distinction, and should also contribute to the College’s goals as described in the Strategic Plan.

Awards range up to $5,000.   View a list of awards made since the program began.

Note:  In the past, Excellence & Innovation Funds were allocated for such initiatives as disciplinary or interdisciplinary conferences to be held on our campus. Funding for these purposes should now be sought from the CLAS Bond Fund for Interdisciplinary Interaction.  Deadlines for applying for Bond Fund awards are the same as those for Excellence & Innovation Funds.


Proposals for Excellence & Innovation Funds should be submitted by the DEO to Brenda Gritsch (  Proposals are typically considered in two cycles: those submitted by December 1 and those submitted by May 1 of each year.  Faculty should apply for funds at least six months in advance of the initiation of the project for which funding is sought. Proposals include the following elements:

  • The cover sheet, with budget information and required DEO signature.
  • The proposal itself (not to exceed two additional pages). The proposal should demonstrate how the initiative meets the criteria mentioned above. If the proposal is for seed money for a project that will be ongoing after the period of the award, the proposal must explain how the funds for continuing the project will be secured.

If more than one proposal is submitted from any department in a single cycle, the DEO must send the Dean a confidential letter rank-ordering the proposals according to their importance for the visibility of the department.

Source of the Funding

The Excellence & Innovation Funds were established as gifts to the College through the UI Foundation, with the goal of fostering and supporting the visibility and leadership of CLAS faculty in research, scholarship, and creative work.

The Excellence & Innovation Funds are to be used

  • to enhance the intellectual and artistic environment in our departments and other arenas of faculty interaction,
  • to help faculty and departments achieve their aspirations for excellence,
  • to lead to improvements in the external visibility and reputation of our departments and faculty, and
  • to provide seed funds for faculty research, scholarship, and creative work.