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Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President

Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President
Kansas State University
108 Anderson Hall
919 Mid-Campus Drive North
Manhattan, KS 66506-0110


Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) Overview

The Next-Gen K-State strategic plan emphasizes academic innovation: “we must reimagine everything about how we educate and prepare learners – broadly challenging ourselves to move nimbly beyond our traditional approaches and lean into a culture of disruption, agility and change.

In the Fall of 2023, the Office of the Provost launched a new Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) to invest up to $1 million in new academic programs, including microcredentials in the FY24 year. A call for proposals has been established designed to spur creative curricular proposals university-wide.

Proposals may include new degree programs at all levels, minors, certificates as well as credit and noncredit microcredentials. Proposals may target existing or new audiences with a focus on positioning K-State as the first-choice education and business partner in Kansas. Additionally, proposals may build on existing curriculum or propose totally new curriculum.

Priority is given to proposals that:

  • Meet regional, national or international learner or workplace needs of the future
  • Drive curricular innovation and academic excellence at K-State, using new and/or flexible methods to present up-to-date and rigorous disciplinary learning experiences
  • Align with the Next-Gen K-State strategic plan or realize other key outcomes and/or differentiators
  • Support the long-term financial viability of the university.

Academic Investment Fund Key Dates

  • April 5, 2024 (Updated deadline for proposals): Completed proposals, with PI, department head and dean signatures, are due by midnight central time
  • April 8 - 26: Proposals under review by the AIF Review Team
  • Week of April 29: Review team provides recommendations to provost and notifications go out to PI’s, department heads, and deans
  • Week of May 6: Funded proposals are announced in K-State Today

Academic Investment Fund Proposal Documents

The proposal submission form and rubric for the FY24 funding cycle:

  1. Proposal Submission Form (Fillable PDF)
  2. Rubric (doc)

Additional submission considerations:

  • PI’s should reach out to the Market Intelligence and Analysis team early to secure their assistance with market need, evidence of demand, and competitor analysis.
  • The fillable PDF, with all signatures, must be submitted to academicinnovation@ksu.edu by April 5, 2024 at midnight central time.
  • For proposals to be considered complete, the signature of the PI, department head and dean are required by the submission deadline. Incomplete proposals will not be reviewed.
  • Multidisciplinary proposals require the signature of all impacted departments and colleges.
  • Please note, all programs and microcredentials must eventually be approved through the appropriate academic governance processes. The receipt of Academic Innovation Funds does not guarantee Faculty Senate approval.

Frequently Asked Questions

Based on questions asked during the webinar in December or through the academicinnovation@ksu.edu email, responses are provided. Questions are grouped into four categories including: General, Market Intelligence and Analysis, Funding Considerations, and Evaluation. The FAQ’s will be updated as additional questions are received.

General Questions

If you are not an academic department (e.g., Beach Museum), are you eligible to submit a proposal?   

Proposals may be submitted by any major academic unit at the university, which includes all colleges, K-State Olathe, K-State Salina, K-State Libraries, K-State Research and Extension, Graduate School, and the Staley School of Leadership. Other units are welcome to work in partnership with a major academic unit on a proposal submission. 

What if an academic department wants to submit more than one proposal? 

Academic departments may submit more than one proposal.  

Is it acceptable for a faculty/staff member to be involved with more than one proposal? 

If multiple opportunities come into view, it is perfectly acceptable for a faculty/staff member to be involved with more than one proposal. 

What if a member of the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) review team wants to submit a proposal? 

Members of the AIF review team may submit a proposal. During the evaluation process, review team members will be excluded from reviewing a proposal for which they have been involved.  

Are these proposals for academic courses?  

No. We are looking for academic program submissions (e.g., microcredentials – credit and noncredit, certificates, minors, degree programs at all levels). These may meet goals or initiatives established in our strategic plan for academic innovation, etc., and the applications request how they relate to it. 

Are these proposals for degree programs only, or can they be initiatives that fall within the strategic plan in general? 

Yes. Proposals are to fund the development of academic programs (e.g., microcredentials – credit and noncredit, certificates, minors, degree programs at all levels). These academic programs may meet the goals of the strategic plan, and we ask how they do in the funding application. Non academic program submissions will not be considered. 

Is a white paper early to department heads/dean to get a sense of support a good way to decide to propose or not?  

In the ideation phase, it is recommended that communication occur early with department/college leadership to ensure overall support. The mode of this communication can vary depending on organizational preferences, but a brief white paper may be a good solution. 

Are the interdisciplinary proposals required to have signatures of impacted departments and colleges?  

No. We request that all departments involved in the interdisciplinary proposal and their deans sign off on interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary applications. Impact statements are part of the university program approval and routing process which is not part of this funding process. 

Do these initiatives have to be online or in person or combo?  

Academic Innovation Funding proposals can be for academic programs at any level and in any modality.  

Are online initiatives required to go through Global Campus instead of the AIF? 

No. This is a university-wide initiative for all kinds and types of academic program proposals, in any modality. 

Is it expected the program will begin in fall 2024? Or sometime within AY 2024-25?  

No. The existing program approval process remains in place for these projects, so there is no expectation that funded proposals must begin in Fall 2024 or Fall 2025. That said, we hope that with the preliminary support of faculty, departments, colleges, and administration, the pathway to the approval process will be timely. 

Market Intelligence & Analysis

Can we submit our own market research? 

No, we are asking that all proposals go through the university’s Market Intelligence and Analysis team so that consistent research methods may be utilized. If you have specific insights about your proposal that would be helpful for the Market Intelligence and Analysis team to know, be sure to proactively share.  

When should I contact the K-State Market Intelligence and Analysis team? 

We recommend getting in the queue with the Market Intelligence and Analysis team as soon as you are ready. For more information about submitting a request: https://global.k-state.edu/market-research/ 

Is there a cost for the market research analysis?  

No. The market research analysis is cost-free. 

What is the turnaround time on a Market Analysis request? How long should we plan to get the results back?  

The Market Intelligence and Analysis team is putting requests in a queue. They will work the requests in the order they are received. It is important to note that data availability may vary depending upon the research requested.    

All requests will be responded to before the submission deadline. However, requests received after March 15th will not be guaranteed, but every effort will be made to provide a report.

Funding Considerations

Is this multi-year funding? 

While this funding opportunity consists of one-time funds, the funds will be available to spend over multiple years. That is, proposals can be for multi-year activity and stipulate that in the timeline and budget sections of the application.  

Is there a maximum award amount? 

No. We do not have a minimum or maximum award for these proposals. We may have highly innovative and impactful proposals that do not require major investment. Likewise, others may be quite costly. We are interested in bold and transformative proposals that can impact K-State learners. 

How can Academic Innovation Funds be used? 

Funds can be used to support work on the initiative that staff or faculty need to accomplish short term. This would include curriculum development and other related activities. They may include investments in technology, marketing, etc. Please note, these are one-time funds that should not be used for hiring permanent positions. 

Is there an expectation for shared funding/support from department and/or college? Can a proposal be entirely funded through this process? Will shared funding strengthen the proposal?  

Shared funding or partnerships with internal units or external stakeholders are welcome in these proposals. If there is interest and support, monetary or otherwise, for the initiative, it will strengthen the overall proposal. That said, it is not required to secure external funding or external interest to submit an academic innovation proposal.  

How do you envision this process relating to the curriculum approval process? Will funding be tied to approval?  

All proposals will need to go through our existing program approval, routing, and notification  processes.   

Funding can be used to prepare and develop programs. Any part of the funding that comes after program approval would be contingent on the program being approved by Faculty Senate and, in relevant cases, Kansas Board of Regents. 

Evaluation Questions

How will proposals be evaluated?  

Proposals will be evaluated using the Academic Innovation Fund rubric available on the AIF website.  

Could you comment on the review rubric criteria? Are they weighted or all equal?  

While each of the criteria are weighted equally, they are listed in priority order. As noted, this call for proposals is focused on bold and transformational proposals.   

Are interdisciplinary proposals encouraged?  

Yes. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary proposals are encouraged and welcome. 

Do we need to demonstrate “novelty” in the proposed program and/or how it will take advantage of existing resources and expertise to avoid duplication of effort? 

We are looking for innovative programs and proposals. However, proposed programs may utilize existing resources, including courses in related departments with related expertise. Rather than duplication of effort, we are looking for collaboration. We will not fund duplication of existing programs.  

What are the metrics to be used for the market analysis? Is this to evaluate the return on investment to the university regarding new grants, new students, etc.?  

The market analysis is simply one indicator of market need or opportunity within a larger context. As noted in the application, proposers need to consider all relevant factors around return on investment (financial and non-financial), alignment with mission/strategic plan, etc.

Presentation and Other Resources

An Academic Innovation Fund informational webinar was held on December 5, 2023. Information from the session includes:

During the webinar, the Academic Innovation Fund Portfolio Matrix was discussed. 

Review Team

  • Tanya Gonzalez, Professor of English and Interim Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, Co-Chair
  • Karen Pedersen, Dean of Global Campus, Co-Chair
  • Hansin Bilgili, Assistant Professor, Department of Management, College of Business Administration
  • Scott Barton, Assistant Professor, Department of Interior Architecture & Industrial Design, College of Architecture, Planning & Design
  • Jennifer Bormann, Professor, Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, College of Agriculture
  • Don Kurtz, Professor and Department Head, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Mindy Markham, Professor and Department Head, Department of Applied Human Sciences, College of Health and Human Sciences
  • Michael Oetken, Assistant Professor, Department of Integrated Studies, College of Technology and Aviation
  • Heather Woods, Associate Professor and Interim Director, A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communications, College of Arts and Sciences

For Questions: academicinnovation@ksu.edu