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Special Opportunities Fund

The University created the Special Opportunities Fund to assist deans and department chairs in increasing the diversity and inclusiveness of the faculty. This fund can serve as a centrally available bridge or supplement to help support the effort to support the University’s Inclusive Community goals.

Ways to use the Special Opportunities Fund

The Special Opportunities Fund is available on a competitive basis to departments and schools for the hiring of individual faculty, clusters of faculty in specified areas, or visiting faculty. The fund can also be used for the creation or expansion of an academic area of study and research (i.e. interdisciplinary work) that may attract the interest of clusters of faculty.

The overarching purpose of the fund is to make available resources for supplements to achieve an important broad educational goal when special opportunities arise. The purpose of the fund is not to provide budget relief.

Four ways to use the fund

There are four mechanisms in the fund to promote hiring and retention of faculty who contribute to several key missions of our University community: excellence in teaching, research, service, and diversity.

Recruit specific candidate

The fund can help recruit candidates who might otherwise not be recruited due to insufficient resources.



Retain strong faculty

The fund can provide supplemental support to retain a valued faculty member who has received an offer from another institution that might lead to the faculty member’s departure. It is the responsibility of the chair and/or dean to maintain documentation with regard to outside offers.



Attract visiting scholars

In 2009, University President Joel Seligman called for expansion of the Special Opportunities Fund, in accepting the recommendation of the “Listening Tour Report” that focused on improving faculty recruitment and retention. This expansion provided support for a visiting faculty program. Visiting scholar programs provide the opportunity for in-depth scholarly exchange with individuals from other institutions. The fund can support visiting scholars to develop and strengthen relationships between universities, while leading to collaborative research and teaching initiatives.



Support programs

The fund can provide support to programs that advance the University’s Inclusive Community goals for which there is insufficient support within a department or school.


Individual communication with the Assistant Vice Provost for Diversity is encouraged throughout the process. Requests for funds will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Please note that each school may have slightly different nomenclature to describe appointments. Repeat applications for the recruitment or retention of the same faculty member are discouraged. Should you have any questions about the eligibility of a candidate, please contact Maggie Cousin ( or 585-275-0792) in the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity.


Distribution of funds

Special Opportunities funds will be distributed by the President and the Richard Feldman Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer. Funds will be made available to schools for a limited duration (typically up to three years for faculty and four months for visiting scholar) and awarded only in cases where the school has presented a well-developed plan for how the faculty member(s) or the proposed program(s) fit into long-term academic goals, budget, and plans for career advancement of the faculty member or fellow being considered.

In funding the recruitment or retention of faculty, equal consideration will be given to the strength of the plans to advance diversity and the professional development plan. The latter must include such elements as plans for mentoring, protected time to develop scholarship (and/or teaching or clinical excellence, if applicable), and short/long-term career goals.

Departments and schools are expected to demonstrate the ability to contribute the majority of the funds to a faculty initial hire. Departments must provide a plan for the assumption of the total cost of maintaining faculty members by the beginning of the fourth year, if not sooner.

Schools or departments that wish to use the fund for visiting scholars need to describe departmental /school support for their proposal. This includes financial support, space, and support for the academic pursuits planned for the proposed hire.

If any interdisciplinary effort is anticipated, applicants should delineate shared sources of support. Innovative programming must include a department/school contribution and plans for sustainability, if applicable.


How to apply

To ensure the timeliest processing, develop applications in consultation with the Assistant Vice Provost for Diversity, and the appropriate department and dean’s office. Before submitting any request, applicants should work in close consultation with the dean to identify and articulate strategies for achieving the University’s Inclusive Community goals through use of the Special Opportunities Fund.

The application should include:

  • The name and contact information of the school/department making the request, as well as appropriate signatures
  • Identification of the school/department’s goals and strategies for helping achieve the University’s Inclusive Community goals and how the proposal fits within that strategy
  • Description of the current proposal for which the school/department is requesting time-limited funds, including professional development plan for faculty, if appropriate.
  • Identification and enumeration of the school/department resources that are available to support this request
  • Indication of the additional support needed and the span of time for which supplemental funds are required

Application forms:

All departments that utilize Special Opportunities Funds are expected to submit a report to the Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity in March of each year documenting progress toward these goals. The Vice President will prepare a year-end report for the President and the University community that summarizes each school’s progress toward the accomplishment of the University’s faculty development goals.

Have questions?

Contact Maggie Cousin at or 585-275-0792.