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President offers funding for transformational ideas

Nov. 4, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University President Judith I. Bailey is looking for a few good ideas--and she's willing to provide funding to put them into practice.

Guidelines for the President's 2005 Innovation Fund were announced this week, and WMU faculty and staff members have until 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, to submit proposals for consideration in a competitive process designed to provide cash awards to turn good ideas into reality.

The initiative was first announced by Bailey in her Sept. 27 State of the University address, when she said she would use unrestricted gifts to establish a pool of $2 million for a series of one-time awards over the next two years. Bailey said her intent is to fund the implementation of innovative ideas that will "challenge us to achieve the highest standard of quality." Ideas submitted for funding should be designed to improve the quality of instruction, research, student life, administrative operations, excellence in service or any other aspect of WMU's core mission.

One-time monetary awards that could range from $100,000 to $1 million will be made in a peer-reviewed competitive process that the president vows will be "wide open."

"We're looking for ideas that will be truly transformational," Bailey says. "This will be an opportunity for faculty and staff members to advance WMU, to challenge the status quo and shape the institution for the years ahead."

Any WMU employee, either individually or as part of a unit or a series of collaborating units, is eligible to submit one or more proposals for funding. The president, with the advice of a review panel, will grant monetary awards to the best projects, based on a merit-review process that will use weighted criteria. The innovative qualities exhibited by proposals will account for 50 percent of the panel's consideration, with 10 percent each assigned to proposal qualities in the areas of mission focus, impact, feasibility, measurable outcomes and expertise.

A nine-person review panel will be led by Dr. Nicholas Andreadis, dean of Extended University Programs. In addition to Andreadis, the panel will consist of three faculty members, three staff members and two administrators. The first award decisions will be announced Feb. 15, and funds for the awards will be released on March 1.

"I am convinced that passion and innovation and the desire to elevate our University to the highest level of excellence can be found throughout this University," Bailey said in an Oct. 31 message to the University community. "I am looking forward as much to the energy level I expect this competition to generate as I am to the very real advancements this effort will produce."

More information about the awards and a link to a complete set of guidelines is available online at www.wmich.edu/president.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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