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III. Grants and Awards

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A. Grants Office

The grants office is an institutional collaboration between the dean of faculty office and the development office. The director of grants administration (dean of faculty office), the director/associate director for corporate, foundation and government relations (development), and the director of grants accounting work together to provide support for faculty in all aspects and stages of the grant process.


B. Internal Grants and Awards

  1. Committee on Research Funds

    1. The committee on research, an elected faculty committee, awards funds for faculty research from specific college funds set aside for this purpose. There are two award cycles each year. Proposals are due after the mid-semester break in the fall and spring. The application form and instructions are posted online.

    2. Faculty may apply for awards for a variety of expenses connected with initiating and completing scholarly and artistic projects. These include costs of publication (e.g., page and offprint charges); subventions; clerical and research assistance; the production of illustrative materials; travel and lodging; supplies, fees associated with access to libraries and other special collections; library materials; services (e.g., translation), and similar items that are crucial for the project, language training required for research, and purchase of scientific and laboratory supplies, as well as supplementary conference travel. Award funds do not cover food, travel to and from sabbatical venues, or local travel.

    3. The grants office provides administrative support for the committee on research awards. Questions concerning awards should be directed to the grants office.

  2. Carolyn Grant ’36 Endowment Fund


    1. The Carolyn Grant committee awards funds for curriculum development. The awarding committee is comprised of both faculty and administrators.

    2. The Carolyn Grant ’36 Endowment Fund offers faculty members the opportunity to integrate expressive arts and experiential processes into their teaching and to explore pedagogical methodologies that engage the imagination in a hands-on way. “Experiential processes” include storytelling, movement, drawing, verbal-enactment, meditative-arts, group process and dialogue, creative applications of myth, dream, folklore, and new audio-visual intensive models of instruction and expression provides information about this fund and its awards.

    3. The grants office provides the administrative support for the Carolyn Grant Endowment Committee awards. Questions concerning awards should be directed to the grants office.

  3. Office of Faculty Research

    1. The office of faculty research awards funds to faculty for curriculum and research development.

    2. For further information concerning the office and the purpose of the funds contact the director of faculty research development.

    3. The grants office provides administrative support for the director of research development. Questions concerning awards should be directed to the grants office.


C. External Funding

Faculty members are encouraged to seek funds from foundations, government agencies, and corporations to support research and curriculum development. The grants office staff support faculty in all aspects and stages of external grant seeking.

To ensure institutional support for the project, faculty members are required to consult with a number of different offices within the college. Grants office staff provides guidance in this process.

The grants office website provides detailed information on services offered and procedures to be followed.


D. Financial Compliance Mandates

  1. Grant Effort and Supplemental Compensation

    1. Summer Grant Salary

      In applying for external funding, faculty may seek summer salary. Such requests should assume a nine-month academic salary (the 12 monthly payments currently received by faculty are a personal and administrative convenience). Thus, each month of summer research represents 1/9 of the salary base. Support may vary according to the scholar’s degree of commitment to the project (e.g. 25%, 50%, 100% effort) and the duration of the research activity (e.g. 1/9, 2/9, 3/9). It is appropriate to reflect a salary increase for each year of effort on a multi-year project.

      In some cases, fund sources have established a maximum level of summer salary support (e.g. NSF allows 2/9 at 100% effort). Other funding organizations have a predetermined flat research stipend, regardless of the scholar’s salary base. In some instances, agencies have eliminated salary support as an eligible project cost. Consult with the grants office for further information.

      It is expected that faculty will request fringe benefits and indirect costs on all grant applications when these are allowed. By federal requirements, FICA must be included in all salaries. For short-term, non-continuing grant personnel, it is expected that, at minimum, FICA and medical insurance will be requested for all grant-funded appointments of six months or more. Consult with the grants office for further information.

    2. Academic Year Grant Salary

      If allowed by the funding agency and approved by the applicant’s chair and the dean of the faculty, grant salary may be used during the academic year to buy released time from teaching and other duties on a prorated basis. Normally, each course of released time is calculated as being equal to 1/5 of the faculty member’s annual salary.

      Academic year grant support may also be used for unpaid leaves or to extend sabbatical leaves. Faculty are strongly encouraged to seek outside support during sabbaticals in order to help defray the costs to the college. Academic year grant income, in combination with contractual salary, may not exceed 9/9 at 100% effort.

      Faculty who wish to seek grant support for research projects during the academic year should discuss such plans well in advance with their department chair and with the dean of the faculty. They should also consult the grants office. Grant applications, which include such support, must have the approval of the dean of the faculty.

    3. Research Income Disclosure

      Faculty are expected to provide full disclosure of all sources of research support—actual and pending—as part of the grant application. Many fund sources require such information and, in the case of federal agencies, it is common practice to have interagency discussions of “level of effort” and “research relatedness” for any single scholar whose research is supported by several agencies.

      Faculty may, with appropriate disclosure, apply to multiple funding sources for the same project, but they will have to choose in the case of multiple letters of award. For further information, consult the grants office.

    4. Academic Administrators

      Academic administrators and other college staff participating in grant-funded research may ordinarily seek extra remuneration only if their appointments are less than 12 months per year and less than full-time (100% effort). Each month of grant effort represents 1/12 of the annual salary base.

      Under special circumstances, full-year, full-time employees may petition for the use of grant funds to buy released time from normal responsibilities to the college. Administrators or staff persons must have the approval of their supervisors at the time of application and in advance of participation in the remunerated project activity.

    5. Short-term Grant Personnel

      All appointments to research positions on external grants are subject to the hiring and employment standards of the college and must comply with federal employment regulations and any special provisions mandated by the fund source.

      While Vassar encourages funding for non-continuing personnel who will bring creative efforts to a successful research enterprise, the college is under no obligation to maintain the services of short-term grant personnel beyond the funding levels and defined project period of any research award.

      Depending on the scope and nature of the research agenda, a faculty member may hire research personnel in a variety of different capacities. These include senior research personnel, technical and clerical personnel, and student researchers. Grant funds must provide all salary and benefits, as well as meet the recruiting costs for each position.

      Senior research personnel normally will hold an advanced degree in the field of research and will have suitable professional experience for carrying out independent research tasks. Prior to official appointment, the faculty project director must complete a research appointment form and supply curriculum vita for the appointee to the coordinator of academic administration in the dean of faculty office so that a letter of appointment and a contract can be generated.

      Technical and clerical personnel ordinarily will demonstrate sufficient background and prior experience to perform duties assigned by the faculty project director. The faculty member must provide, to the director of human resources sufficient evidence on the research appointment form to demonstrate the appointee’s ability to meet the established criteria of the corresponding grade level at the college. For further information, consult the director of human resources.

      Student researchers ordinarily will be chosen for the educational relevance of the research to their program of study and their demonstrated aptitude in performing research tasks. It is the responsibility of the faculty project director to verify the student’s employment eligibility and financial aid status with the coordinator of student employment. Academic-year wages should be equal to or higher than the research assistant hourly rate determined annually by the student employment office. Summer wages should be prorated, in terms of the weeks of employment, in accordance with the college’s summer research programs in the sciences (URSI) and in the humanities and social sciences (Ford Scholars). For further information about a student’s eligibility, consult with the coordinator of student employment.

      Post baccalaureate students are hired as temporary employees of the college and their hire is processed through the office of human resources, and not student employment.

  2. Grant Transfer

    Departing faculty members who hold active grants from external sources are asked to initiate discussions as early as possible with the dean of the faculty and the grants office on the limitations and conditions of transferring the unobligated balance of grant funds and grant-acquired equipment to another academic institution. The terms of transfer will need to conform to the college’s needs and the regulations of the sponsoring organization.

    To initiate the formal request for transfer, the departing faculty member will need to document in writing to the dean of the faculty why the transfer of funds and equipment is necessary and to provide evidence of having fulfilled all obligations to existing grant personnel and to encumbered project costs at the college and similarly show proof of having completed all mandatory reporting requirements to the sponsoring organization. With approval by the dean, the departing faculty member must then secure a statement in writing from the other academic institution that it will receive the grant funds and/or grant-supported equipment and assume fiduciary responsibilities for the grant. Upon receipt of this statement, the college will make arrangements for transfer of unexpended and unencumbered funds still available from the sponsoring organization. The departing faculty member will be asked to sign a memorandum of agreement.

  3. Title to Equipment

    Title to all equipment acquired through external grants is held by Vassar College. Ordinarily, equipment secured by matching funds from the college may not leave with a departing faculty member, except that another academic institution to which that faculty member is going may, at the discretion of Vassar College, negotiate the purchase of any equipment needed by the departing faculty member in order to continue a research project. In the case of equipment acquired without matching funds from Vassar, transfer of title may be negotiated with the next home institution of the departing faculty member. (The purchase of equipment or transfer of title will be determined on the basis of the need of the departing member as measured against Vassar College’s need, provided that such purchase or transfer of title is acceptable to the sponsoring organization). If the departing faculty member is not going directly to another academic institution, then the equipment must remain at the College.

    To initiate a request for equipment transfer, the departing faculty member must indicate in writing to the dean of strategic planning and academic resources well in advance of the expiration of the Vassar contract and the termination of the research grant, which items of grant-acquired equipment are to be transferred to, or purchased by, the next home institution.


E. Standards of Research Conduct

The conduct of sponsored research and consulting activities places special responsibilities upon the faculty member and the college to ensure the highest standards of professional behavior consistent with the academy’s commitment to free and open inquiry in the pursuit of new knowledge, the dissemination of knowledge, and new applications of knowledge. The federal and state governments, other sponsoring organizations, professional societies, and the college itself have instituted policies to deal with a range of crucial issues relating to the performance of research, the environment in which research is conducted, relationships between sponsors and the recipients of research support, and ownership and transfer of intellectual products that may be developed in the course of sponsored activities. Vassar College abides by the policies, principles, and regulations set forth in the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct, published in the December 6, 2000, edition of the Federal Register. For further information consult the document, a copy of which is held in the grants office and the dean of the faculty office.
(Amended by the Faculty, May 7, 2003)

  1. Participation of Human Beings as Subjects in Research

    Research involving the use of human subjects must (a) adhere to codes of professional ethics governing the rights and welfare of such subjects, as established by the federal government and/or professional organizations, and (b) be reviewed by the college’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), prior to submission of a grant or, at the latest, prior to commencement of the research project. It is assumed that members of any discipline considering research with human beings will be bound by the ethical principles governing their profession. In addition, the following guidelines govern research at Vassar (whether externally funded or not):

    Research involving the use of human subjects must (a) adhere to codes of professional ethics governing the rights and welfare of such subjects, as established by the federal government and/or professional organizations, and (b) be reviewed by the college’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), prior to submission of a grant or, at the latest, prior to commencement of the research project. It is assumed that members of any discipline considering research with human beings will be bound by the ethical principles governing their profession. In addition, the following guidelines govern research at Vassar (whether externally funded or not):

    In considering the participation of human beings as research subjects, the guiding principle is that no person should be exposed to other than reasonable risk to privacy, health or well-being, and that active participation should be voluntary and by informed consent.

    All persons involved in initiating, approving, or conducting research involving human subjects shall share the responsibility for the welfare of the individuals who serve as subjects.

    Ethical practice requires the investigator to inform participants of all features of the research that reasonably might be expected to influence willingness to participate and to explain all other aspects of the research about which participants inquire and to insure their understanding of the nature of the research. Added emphasis is given to the investigator’s responsibility to protect the welfare and dignity of the research participant.

    Openness and honesty are essential characteristics of the relationship between investigator and research participant. When the methodological requirements of a study necessitate concealment or deception, the investigator is required to ensure the participant understands of the reasons for this action and to restore the quality of the relationship with the investigator.

    Ethical research practice requires the investigator to respect the individual’s freedom to decline to participate in research or to discontinue participation at any time. The obligation to protect this freedom requires special vigilance when the investigator is in a position of power over the participant. The informed consent of subjects must be obtained without duress with as full knowledge as possible and prior to any participation in the research. The decision to limit this freedom increases the investigator’s responsibility to protect the participant’s dignity and welfare.

    The personal privacy of individuals and the confidentiality of identifiable information received from them must be protected. Exceptions to this principle may be made only with the informed consent of the participant.

    Questionnaires used as part of a research proposal or in class exercises are to be submitted to the IRB for approval. Such questionnaires must protect the rights of privacy and confidentiality.

    All research involving human subjects, including classroom questionnaires, must be submitted for approval to the IRB prior to initiation of research. For further information, consult the chair of the review board.

  2. Use of Laboratory Animals in Research

    Vassar College abides by the policies, principles and regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in its publications titled Guide to the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and Laboratory Animal Welfare. Accordingly, the College Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) reviews all matters related to the humane care and use of laboratory animals in the research and teaching programs of the College. Any faculty member or student using laboratory animals in their teaching or research must submit proposals for approval to IACUC before the use takes place. For further information, consult the chair of IACUC.

  3. Other Compliance Matters

    In the current research environment supported to a large degree by the federal government, the college acts as fiduciary agent to who is transferred responsibilities for a broad range of issues that seek to reduce the risks to researchers and the general public of potential dangers inherent in certain kinds of research undertakings. It is incumbent upon faculty who serve as project directors of research activities that include the use of hazardous materials, recombinant DNA, and radioactive materials to become familiar with the policies and procedures of the college committees that oversee these matters.

    For further information about the respective committees, consult the grants office.

  4. Conflicts of Interest in Research

    Vassar College attaches great importance to the peer review process and to the objective consideration of research proposals based on the particular merits of the project director’s qualifications, experience, and specific research plan. In accordance with the Financial Disclosure Policy of the National Science Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services, the college requires all research investigators to disclose privileged relationships to a sponsoring organization or other consulting entity that would significantly affect the design, conduct, fundability, and outcome of research projects.

    Areas covered by the disclosure policy include a faculty member’s financial interests in the sponsoring organization (e.g. salary, consulting fees, equity interests, royalties from marketable products) and a project director’s potential exercise of influence over the funding decision of the sponsor or consulting entity (e.g. officer, director, consultant).

    The basis for making an objective judgment about real or perceived conflicts in sponsored research and consulting relationships and for determining the potential for personal gain or improper advantage begins with a written statement of disclosure by the faculty member. In some instances, the college may require that faculty members take mitigating steps to reduce the real or perceived conflict of interest or to disassociate themselves entirely from all dealings with the sponsoring organization or consulting entity before the college will give approval to the submission of a research proposal or enter into a contractual agreement with the sponsoring agency.

    For further information, consult with the grants office.


F. Intellectual Property Rights Arising from Research

Vassar College is deeply committed to a policy of free and open expression in the development and dissemination of ideas. The ownership of ideas and inventions, however, is a vexed matter. This is particularly the case in an age of proliferating information technologies and fast-paced scientific discoveries where traditional notions of intellectual property, embedded in the concept of copyright (ownership of expression), have become knotty matters tied up in evolving principles and practices pertaining to the commercialization (ownership of use) of tangible products resulting from intellectual labors.

In this rapidly changing environment, the college, as employer of faculty and as the fiduciary agent for sponsored research, must make complex determinations about what constitutes proof of ownership of ideas and inventions developed on its campus and supported by its research infrastructure; who accordingly owns, in both the individual and collective sense, these ideas and inventions; and who should benefit from the commercial rights to and development of these ideas and inventions.

It is the college’s position that there must be a balance struck between the costs of creation and the benefits of use of ideas and inventions, a balance that weighs heavily in favor of the values and financial interests of the college and that adequately serves the public interest. It follows that the college and the faculty member must be allies in the face of commercial expectations for exclusive rights to product development of potentially marketable ideas or inventions. It further follows that, between them, the college and the faculty member must negotiate, fairly and in good faith, their mutual financial interests in instances of patent filings, licensing agreements, and other forms of commercial development such that the college recovers a fair portion of the costs associated with providing a supportive research environment and faculty members are appropriately rewarded for their discoveries.

Faculty members of Vassar College are expected to adhere to several guiding principles in the complex and evolving domain of intellectual property issues arising from sponsored research and consulting relationships. It is further expected that faculty members will have appropriately consulted with and received the approval of the dean of strategic planning and academic resources before entering into any such agreements.

  1. The faculty member will be bound by the principle of open disclosure of all sponsored research and consulting relationships. Vassar College will not enter into secretive agreements with sponsoring organizations, nor otherwise condone provisions for nondisclosure of such relationships.

  2. The faculty member will not agree to any sponsor conditions that expressly limit or otherwise prohibit the free expression and dissemination of ideas developed in the course of a sponsored relationship, including, but not limited to, oral presentations at conferences and symposia and printed and electronic forms of publication.

  3. The faculty member will not agree to terms with sponsors that waive the college’s exclusive rights and title to intellectual property that may arise from a sponsored agreement.

  4. The faculty member will fully disclose to the dean of the strategic planning and academic resources any intention to file a patent, to enter into a commercial licensing agreement, or to entertain other commercial ventures based upon college sanctioned sponsored agreements. All such actions require the written approval of the college in advance.


Vassar College Sign-Off Transmittal Form