*** NOTE ***
By Karen Herland
Efforts to create an environment where research collaboration can flourish and Concordia’s researchers are more competitive are receiving financial support from the Office of the Vice-President, Research & Graduate Studies (VPRGS).
Vice-President Louise Dandurand’s plan, Mobilizing Knowledge, was endorsed by the Senate Research Committee and launched last December. Its overarching goal is to improve Concordia’s research performance and visibility.
It outlines a series of measures for seed funding, grant applications, infrastructure for existing research units, conferences and exhibitions, and other support for researchers. Each envelope is designed to support external funding opportunities. Several are competitive in nature, and some involve matching funds or contributions from the faculty in question or other sources.
Although some new money was freed up for the plan, most of the process relies on the strategic, coordinated spending of existing resources, like the support for Concordia Research Chairs and Concordia Aids to Scholarly Activity.
“Besides supporting research activity on campus, this spending has underlying and ancillary benefits,” Dandurand said in an interview after the inaugural term of the project. “We are more likely to attract graduate students with a vibrant research community, and to retain faculty members,”
The bulk of the recommendations are handled at the faculty level. Dandurand stressed that each faculty was encouraged to build on her office’s general criteria and guidelines to ensure that they determined the scientific merit of each project. An initial call for proposals was made in the various faculties just before the end of 2007.
Those recommendations were forwarded to a committee that had two representatives from Arts and Science and Engineering and Computer Science, and one each from the JMSB and Fine Arts. The representatives relied on the faculty-based adjudication process to make their recommendations.
This year’s competitions were very popular, with faculty-recommended proposals totalling over $1.2 million. Given that the available envelope currently holds $700,000, different funding scenarios were adopted for each program to maximize their impact.
A new call for proposals will likely go out in the fall, at the beginning of the first full academic year of the program. Dandurand anticipates that the conference/exhibition envelope will be given out in two calls, while the other envelopes will become available once a year.
Although the outcomes of the disbursements will be monitored, the program as a whole will likely be evaluated after three years.