1. What is the unbounded possibilities initiative?
The unbounded possibilities initiative is a mechanism by which
investment is made in areas of current or potential strength, that
meet societal needs, and that help to bring positive external
notoriety to the university.
2. Why are we doing this?
Society needs higher education more than ever. Yet, our institutions
are not always optimally able to respond to those needs via the
mechanisms and structures we have created to conduct our work. Other
institutions have been particularly effective at building a culture
that recognizes the advantages of building collaborations across
units and disciplines and leveraging that for institutional mission
and vision advancement. Some examples can be found under the
resources link on this website. Indiana State University can be a
leader in this way as well. All benefit from this kind of
3. How will it be implemented?
The initiative will be implemented via a competitive funding process
that starts with a campus engagement and idea development phase that
culminates in the submission and evaluation of concept papers. The
authors/project leaders of the most promising concept papers will
then be invited to develop full proposals.
4. How does this fit into the broader goals of ISU’s strategic plan?
The purpose of the Pathway to Success strategic plan for Indiana
State University is to achieve the ISU vision, namely a shared
commitment to improving our communities as a means of becoming
nationally known for our academic, cultural, and research
opportunities. This ensures the success of our people and work.
Institutional distinctiveness is a natural byproduct of the effort
behind the strategic plan’s implementation.
5. Why should I consider becoming involved?
Pride in your work and that of others, desire to make a difference,
and the possibilities for ISU’s future.
6. How is unbounded possibilities different than the previous initiative, distinctive programs?
While still enabling existing departments and programs to be
eligible for support, this new process also emphasizes
collaborations that cross traditional disciplinary or institutional
boundaries, a mechanism that has proven especially effective at
other institutions for enhancing institutional quality and external
recognition. The new process also places a strong emphasis on
projects that start with a clear external need in mind with a plan
for how that need will get addressed. Finally, the resources
available the last time were $1.75 million in one-time funds over
five years while this process involves $5 million over five years
but with the potential that at least some of those resources would
be base, or recurring funding.
7. How much money is designated for the unbounded possibilities and when are the due dates for proposal
As noted above, there is $5 million in funding over 5 years,
approximately $1.5 million envisioned to be allocated in the first
year. However, since base funding will be considered, the overall
funding for this initiative will likely be greater. Concept papers
are due March 31, 2011 with those selected to submit full proposals
due September 19, 2011. Although there are no current plans for a
second round of proposals, that decision will depend on the quantity
and nature of the projects supported through the initial round and
the budgetary commitments made.
8. Will an existing program of distinction have an advantage for
funding in the unbounded possibilities initiative?
No, an existing program of distinction has no inherent advantage for
funding through unbounded possibilities, although they, like other parts of the
campus, may see opportunities within the new process. All
initiatives advanced through unbounded possibilities will be considered on an
equal basis and assessed using the same evaluative criteria.
9. Are existing programs of distinction at a disadvantage in the unbounded possibilities
process if they were not invited to submit a proposal for funding
from the residual Lilly Endowment funds?
As noted under #8 above, all programs are eligible to be a part of
unbounded possibilities in some way with the likelihood of funding a
function of the quality of the initiative proposal and match with
10. Are there any current or in-the-works initiatives that have
already been decided will get funding through this process?
No. Although there are a number of initiatives underway at ISU that
might have potential for support through the through unbounded possibilities process, none have been pre-ordained or been
anointed to receive funding from these resources.
11. Will non-participating programs or units be hurt in any way by
not engaging in this process?
ISU cannot achieve its vision and enact its mission without the
contributions of programs and units all across campus, irrespective
of whether or not they are a participant in some way in the
unbounded possibilities initiative.
12. Who is eligible to participate? For example, is it limited to
just academic units?
Although academic units are envisioned to be the central participant
in this initiative, non-academic units could likely be a partner.
13. Will there be proposal development funds available?
Yes, for those invited to develop full proposals based upon their
concept paper. Full proposal project teams will be eligible for up
to $4,000 in proposal development funds. These resources are
envisioned to support idea development, to facilitate visits to
other institutions/organizations to explore possible models, and to
engage experts/consultants. Stipends for authors/project leaders
will not be funded. Proposal development resources will be provided
upon receipt of proposal development work plans, including
envisioned line item expenditures.
14. How will the resources be allocated to funded initiatives?
A strategic plan with detailed actions steps and a 5-year budget
will be expected as part of a full proposal submission. Funds will be
allocated annually and projects reviewed annually for the following
year’s funding consideration.
15. To whom will collaborative initiatives be accountable? A
Projects will always be accountable to their home units, but
depending on the nature of the initiative, a formal structure may be
created for joint college accountability and/or directly to Academic
16. What is in place to maximize initiative sustainability?
Base funding will be available through this initiative, although a
high expectation will also be placed on leveraging external funding.
17. How will we know if an initiative is successful?
The strategic plans expected in funding proposals must include
goals/objectives and benchmark indicator measures tied to dates.
Funded initiatives will be evaluated every year based upon these
measures as well as appropriate other accountability expectations,
including an external evaluation and those associated with proper
18. Will those in the arts and humanities be able to participate?
Absolutely and they are encouraged to do so. A number of
universities have established distinction through the arts and
humanities, for example, sometimes when linked to quality of life
initiatives and at other times as a component of other institutional
teaching, scholarship, or service goals.
19. Who will be evaluating the proposals?
Concept papers will be evaluated internally via a Faculty Senate
appointed committee, the Dean’s Council, and the DPOC. Furthermore,
the concept papers will be presented at an open community forum.
Recommendations for selection of those to be invited to submit full
proposals will be made to the Provost and President.
Full proposals will be evaluated both internally and externally. The
internal review will consist of a Faculty Senate appointed
committee, the Dean’s Council, a panel of Caleb Mills and Theodore
Dreiser Award winners, and the DPOC. An external panel of 3-4
persons with respected experience leading/managing development
initiatives such as these will also be identified and invited to
campus for an open community presentation by proposal teams.
Recommendations for selection of initiatives to fund will be made to
the Provost and President.
20. How transparent will the reviews be for the new process?
Reviews of full proposals will be posted to a publicly accessible
website and the entire community is welcome to attend the concept
paper and full proposal presentations.
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