Proposal Sparks New Faculty Travel Program

February 7, 2008

A joint effort between University of Houston administrators, Faculty Senate and deans has led to the first-ever Provost’s Faculty Travel Fund.

The program provides stipends of up to $750 each for tenured and tenure-track faculty members
who present research or creative work at various venues such as regular or annual meetings of a national or international professional society.

Stipends pay for travel expenses, including registration fees, transportation, hotel accommodations and meals. Money is available to award at least 200 stipends for fiscal year 2008, which ends Aug. 31. For application and guidelines, visit fac_travel_fund.html#factravguidelines.

The program’s goals are to support productive faculty and to increase the number of presentations of high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship and creative work at national and international meetings, said Don Foss, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

“I am delighted that we are able to begin this program,” Foss said. “It will give our faculty additional opportunities to present their work and, therefore, to have an impact in their disciplines. I’d like to acknowledge the helpful input from Faculty Senate, particularly its immediate past president, Joe Kotarba, and from college deans. They have helped shape the outlines of this program.”

Prior to the program’s launch, faculty members funded travel one of three ways: with their own grant money, through limited departmental travel funds or at their own expense, Kotarba said.

Kotarba first presented the idea of a university-sponsored travel program during his inaugural address as Faculty Senate president last January. Throughout the year, Kotarba focused on the idea as a way to accomplish his presidential goal of enhancing the professor’s role.

“Professional travel is an integral feature of the role of the professor,” Kotarba said. “Attendance at annual meetings of professional organizations, for example, allows faculty to talk to a wide range of publishers’ representatives to help grow an idea for a book or to generate grant proposals with other scholars.”

After discussing the idea with administrators, Kotarba submitted a proposal to John Rudley, who was then the interim UH president, and Foss.

“The proposal evolved through my work with the Faculty Senate Executive and Faculty Affairs committees and Mark Clarke, chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee,” Kotarba said. “Dr. Foss was enthusiastic about the proposal, but cautious because of the issues we would have to address such as the award amount. I credit Dr. Foss for not only taking our idea, but also for gaining feedback and acceptance from campus groups such as the Deans’ Council.”

Francine Parker