Faculty Research Travel Fund

FRTF set at $800, the pre-pandemic level, for this fiscal year

Sept. 22, 2023

Dear colleagues,

Thank you to those who have shared your perspective and concerns about the Faculty Research Travel Fund (FRTF). We have heard you. University and Faculty Senate leadership have been listening and working toward mutually agreeable solutions this week. Effective immediately, the maximum award for eligible travel from the FRTF for the remainder of the 2023-24 fiscal year will be $800 per eligible faculty member, which is the same rate that was set in fiscal years 2017-18 through 2020-21. The trip maximum will be one per year, as has been the custom. The last two fiscal years were exceptional in terms of historical norms, which we detail below.

The Publication of Papers and Exhibition of Creative Works (PPP&E) budget will be set at $35,249, which is equal to the five-year average of expenditures in fiscal years 2018-19 to 2022-23. 

These responsive changes have been made possible through discretionary funds from the offices of the President, Vice President for Research and Innovation and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. We believe the listening, communication and problem-solving among University leadership and the Faculty Senate Executive Board demonstrate strong shared governance. While we would have preferred to entirely avoid the consternation this issue has caused, we have found strength in working together. 

While the University’s customary maximum travel award has been $800 and average budget for PPP&E has been approximately $35,000, two circumstances came together this year to create the situation we are ameliorating today. First, a review of minutes and Memorandums of Action (MOAs) under the purview of the Faculty Senate Research Policy Council surfaced MOA 3/10, which requires a complicated formula and process to establish the per-eligible-faculty-member figure that was published on Friday, Sept. 15. It divides the FRTF budget by the total number of bargaining unit faculty. This has not been done in our long-held practice, since at least 2008, and is an entirely theoretical number. The total percentage of bargaining unit faculty traveling on FRTF ranges from approximately 25% to 34%, not 100%. If you read the MOA in detail, you’ll find that this figure was never intended to be a maximum, nor the entire budget, but rather an initial amount provided to colleges at the beginning of the year. 

The second development is that the University, for the first time, would have experienced the impact of a decision from the 2020-21 budget cut that was made in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. This was early in the pandemic, so travel was largely prohibited and many academic gatherings were canceled. Entering 2021-22, the FTRF fund had a sizable carryover, so the Faculty Senate Research Policy Council (RPC) doubled the traditional maximum award to $1,600 and added an allowance for a second trip. That year travel picked up but remained a fraction of pre-pandemic levels. Last fiscal year began with another large carryover. The RPC increased the maximum to $2,500 and continued the allowance for a second trip.

The response is clear that the 2003 MOA does not work for us in today’s world. And the impact of a three-year-old decision was surprising and unsettling. We’ve also come to believe that our current processes can be greatly improved. The steps we are taking today put us on even footing with our historical norms and give us time over the coming year to work together to improve the process, clarify roles and develop an approach worthy of this strong R2 research University.


Dr. Remzi Seker
Vice President for Research and Innovation

Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Sarah Summy
Faculty Senate President,
on behalf of the Executive Board

How to use the Faculty Research Travel Fund

The Faculty Research Travel Fund supports faculty travel to meetings of professional organizations for the purpose of reporting research results, exhibition or performance of creative works, or other means of disseminating the results of Western Michigan University’s scholarly activity. 

Complete and submit an application online at InfoReady. Log in with a Bronco NetID and password. Applications must be submitted within 30 days of the end of travel and will processed at the end of each quarter; applicants will receive confirmation when the transfer has been initiated.

The maximum award for eligible travel from the FRTF for the remainder of the 2023-24 fiscal year will be $800 per eligible faculty member. The trip maximum will be one per year.

Questions about application procedures can be directed to ORI. Questions regarding reimbursement levels and policy can be directed to your RPC representative.

  • Guidelines


    Presenting and publishing papers and exhibits or performances of creative work represent tangible evidence of research, scholarly or creative activities. Therefore, the FRTF is designed to provide financial assistance for bargaining unit faculty to travel to meetings of professional organizations for the express purposes of:

    • Reporting the results of original or applied research.
    • Exhibiting or performing creative works.

    Examples of creative activities funded include:

    • MASQUES for piano and brass quintet performed at a public concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
    • Solo recital, Five Sonorous Inventions, National Association of Music Teachers, National Convention, Dallas, TX.

    Examples of travel that are not funded:

    • Chairing a meeting or panel without presenting.
    • Attendance at meetings as a board member without presenting.
    • Serving as a moderator.
    • Serving as a commentator.


    • Individuals eligible for travel support are restricted to all those holding board-appointed faculty rank (i.e. members of the bargaining unit) at the time the paper or the creative activity is presented.
    • No more than one application/trip is accepted per fiscal year, equaling up each year's maximum reimbursement level. With no lodging restrictions in terms of number of nights. There are also no limits on meals, but applicants must follow federal guidelines (which are 3 meals per day and the allowable per diem).
    • With no lodging restrictions in terms of number of nights. There are also no limits on meals, but applicants must follow federal guidelines (which are 3 meals per day and the allowable per diem).
    • Virtual conference registration fees are allowable as long all eligibility (part I.) items are met. 

    Reimbursement conditions

    1. The department chair must certify that the professional organization or forum at which the work is presented is of high caliber.
    2. Reimbursement will be for the following actual, allowable expenses—up to the annual maximum amount approved by the Research Policies Council (RPC) each September for the current fiscal year.
      • Transportation costs, economy class airfare, and related ground transportation.
      • Meals.
      • Lodging.
      • Conference or exhibition registration fees
      •  Operating in the role of mentor for a student presenter, as verified by the department chair or director
      • If a traditional in-person conference changes format to a teleconferencing conference due to COVID-19 concerns, the registration cost and required fees are eligible for FRTF reimbursement. FRTF will not cover transportation, lodging or per diem for a teleconference.
    3. Reimbursement will not be made to Funds 25 through 29. If expenditures are made from grant accounts, they are not reimbursable.
    4. All expenditures made through the FRTF must conform to the University’s travel policy. All pre-approvals must be attached.
  • Application procedures

    Applications for travel reimbursement from the FRTF must be submitted via InfoReady and include the following:

    1. Completed and signed copy of the travel authorization form.
    2. Completed, signed and approved copy of the travel expense voucher.
    3. A copy of the conference or exhibition program cover page (showing conference dates) and a copy of the session page showing the name of the faculty member with the title of either the paper or the creative activity presented. If the faculty member is listed as chair of a panel, evidence that a presentation was made must be provided.

    Questions about eligibility or documentation for a trip should be referred to ovpr-internalfunding@wmich.edu prior to the planned travel.


    Operation of the fund

    The FRTF coordinator ovpr-internalfunding@wmich.edu in the Office of Research and Innovation will administer the research travel fund. The program coordinator will be responsible for the day‐to‐day operation of the fund, in consultation with the faculty liaison. The faculty liaison, who must be a member of the bargaining unit and a member of the Research Policies Council, will be responsible for consulting regularly with the fund coordinator and making recommendations regarding FRTF policies and procedures to Research Policies Council.