According to Robert Porter, a faculty member's first grant is often the most difficult one to get funding. "When they are new to the grant game," says Porter, "even scholars with fine publishing records can struggle with proposal writing." To address this often overlooked challenge, in 2015, thanks to the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Xavier's Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development began a new program called "Support for First-Time Grant Writing," as a means of providing Xavier faculty who have never served as the Principal Investigator on a grant the time to develop a strong proposal for an external grant to fund a scholarly project. According to Dr. Elizabeth Yost Hammer, Director of CAT+FD, "By providing release time for faculty to work on and submit that first grant proposal, this program will help faculty members sustain their research and scholarship even in the face of a heavy teaching load."
In October 2015, CAT+FD awarded the first round of support to five Xavier faculty. We are pleased to report that one of those inaugural recipients has been awarded the grant for which she applied. Dr. Robin Runia, Associate Professor of English, received a course release during the Spring 2015 term in order to write a proposal for the National Endowment for the Humanities "Awards for Faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities." Submitted to the NEH in April 2016, Dr. Runia's proposal — "Displaced Britons: Africans and Creoles in the Work of Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849)" — was selected for funding last month.
The NEH grant will provide Dr. Runia with half release time during both the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 terms, as well as salary during the following summer, in order for her to complete a monograph of the representation of Africans and Creoles in the 18th century fiction and drama of Anglo-Irish writer Maria Edgeworth.
The NEH "Awards for Faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities" is a highly competitive program that "supports individual faculty or staff members at Historically Black Colleges and Universities pursuing research of value to humanities scholars, students, or general audiences." According to the NEH web site, "In the last five competitions the three Awards for Faculty programs received an average of 118 applications per year. The programs made an average of nine awards per year, for a funding ratio of 8 percent."
- Awards for Faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2017, from https://www.neh.gov/grants/research/awards-faculty-historically-black-colleges-and-universities.
- Porter, R. (2006). Why academics have a hard time Writing Good Grant Proposals. The Journal of Research Administration, 38(2), 37-43, Retrieved from http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/funding/documents/Whyacademicsprobsgrantwriting.pdf.