By Carla Cantor
Thirty-seven academic initiatives have been selected this year to receive Academic Excellence Fund awards totaling $3.2 million.
Many of the initiatives, chosen from among 100 proposals, include projects that establish new research centers, advance undergraduate and graduate education, or emphasize service to the state. The awards support existing and emerging areas of excellence within the university - nanotechnology and materials science, transportation, nutrition and other health-related research, undergraduate and graduate curricular initiatives, international education and K-12 educational initiatives.
Philip Furmanski, executive vice president for academic affairs, notified the sponsors of the funded proposals at the end of January. "This is the third year that the university has administered this valuable program, and we're seeing the fruits of the seed money in forward-thinking, interdisciplinary programs that are bringing our researchers to the forefront of their disciplines," Furmanski said.
The funded initiatives represent a broad array of academic disciplines from all three Rutgers campuses. Awards range from a $160,000 grant to establish a Center for Marine Biotechnology to a $5,000 grant that will support an interdisciplinary faculty group meeting on the economic, legal and social aspects of international trade and foreign direct investment.
Several grants will help launch new centers. Examples include an East Asian Business Center at the Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick, a Center for the Production of Novel Protein Targets from Pathogenic Parasites that will leverage technology being developed at Rutgers by the Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium, an Institute for Women and Art, a Center for Philosophy and the Sciences, and a Center for Green Building Excellence at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
The awards support projects in the humanities, social sciences, life sciences and physical sciences. A $75,000 grant will help create a doctoral degree in public affairs on the Camden campus. A $100,000 grant will help the College of Nursing develop a doctorate of nursing practice degree, and a $125,000 award will bring together the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, the department of genetics in New Brunswick/Piscataway and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to develop a leading research and treatment program for Tourette syndrome.
The Academic Excellence Fund provides support for initiatives not covered by the university's annual budget. University officials considered several factors in selecting initiatives, including whether the proposal could be leveraged to lead to sustained new academic programs and research projects, and whether the initiative could be accomplished with other institutional resources or external funding.
President Richard L. McCormick announced the creation of the Academic Excellence Fund during his 2003 "Address to the University Community."