Provost's winter campus update

February 1, 2024
Elizabeth Watkins
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
February 1, 2024

Dear Campus Community,

I write this quarter with an update on investments being made to support our research mission at UCR. The campus will make two significant investments in 2024: 1) recurring central funding for a new campus interdisciplinary research center and 2) the purchase of a web-based platform that displays publicly available information about faculty in a searchable database.

First, I am excited to announce that the Request for Proposals for UCR’s first Campus Interdisciplinary Research Center (CIRC) has been posted. It has long been an aspiration of our campus to create a larger type of center under a centralized reporting model with specific creation, review, and continuation guidelines, and with a new central budget allocation. The creation of such research infrastructure is also one of the initiatives in our campus strategic plan, UCR 2030.

The newly created CIRC will excel in interdisciplinary research and scholarly work. It will capitalize on the demonstrated success of existing research teams, further creating and incentivizing synergy among faculty, students, and staff across campus. The goal is to attract new individuals and additional external resources to UCR, aiming to achieve even greater national and international recognition.

The CIRC will operate under the supervision of the Office of Research and Economic Development (RED) and the director will report to the VCRED or their designee. Recurring funds will be allocated from the central campus for a minimum of five years and will include:

•    salary and benefits for the director at 50% time for 12 months.

•    salary and benefits for one senior staff (administrative director/grants facilitator).

•    salary and benefits for one support staff (administrative and programming support).

•    discretionary funding for programs, events, travel, supplies, and other research-related expenses (amount to be determined).

It is anticipated that the director will hold UCR’s Presidential Chair in Interdisciplinary Research, including a $10,000 annual stipend, pending Academic Senate consultation.

The CIRC will be funded by a new central campus allocation (estimated to be in the range of $700,000-$800,000 annually) to RED’s budget, which in turn will be allocated to the center as a unit within RED. The reporting structure between the CIRC and RED will be similar to that between an academic department and the corresponding dean. The VCRED will have authority over budget, personnel, and administrative matters of the CIRC upon recommendations by the director. The CIRC will also have a steering committee of faculty, which will advise the CIRC’s director on research-related matters.

In addition, the CIRC will receive a portion of the indirect costs (IDC, also called F&A, for facilities & administration) generated by grants and contracts submitted through the center. A new formula will be used for the CIRC regarding the current portions of the F&A distributed to the deans, departments, and PIs. The 25% currently going to the deans will be distributed 10% deans, 10% RED and 5% CIRC; the 10% currently going to the departments will be distributed 5% departments and 5% the CIRC; the 5% currently going to the PI will remain the same. In total, the CIRC will receive 10% F&A. The rationale for this allocation methodology is that the CIRC is intended to function as the equivalent of a department and promote further synergy and collaboration among all its stakeholders. The portion going to RED will, in part, cover the additional administrative workload for overseeing the center, which is normally handled in the academic units. Despite the CIRC being a RED unit, a portion of the F&A is preserved for the deans and academic departments to avoid creating competition between those units and the CIRC. The intention is for the CIRC to generate applications for new, large, multi-PI award opportunities, separate from the regular single-PI grant proposals that faculty can continue to submit through the usual channels (their departments and schools/colleges).

To qualify for a Campus Interdisciplinary Research Center designation, the team of researchers applying for it and their project should meet the following requirements:

•    An already established record of excellence in interdisciplinary collaborations. 

•    A demonstrated external funding record commensurate with the topics of the CIRC and considered to be very successful within the expectations of the disciplines involved.

•    The potential to apply for very large federal grants. 

•    A well-thought-out plan for a sustainable path forward.

•    Involvement of multiple faculty members from at least three different colleges or schools (multiple department representation within one college or school will not suffice).

•    A proposed initial director, who will be an accomplished faculty member with national recognition, highly regarded by colleagues and peers, and with experience directing big projects involving large groups of people. 

Note that brand-new research initiatives in areas not already established on campus will not be considered for this opportunity.

Second, in addition to our investment in the CIRC and commensurate with the expectations of our membership in AAU, the campus needs to provide faculty with better tools to facilitate research collaborations and to identify funding and recognition opportunities. Greater external visibility for our faculty will contribute to further raising UCR’s institutional visibility and overall profile. Here are some FAQs about a new web-based platform that will display publicly available information about faculty in a searchable database.

How does it work?

Publicly available information about faculty is aggregated into a user-friendly web interface. Think of it as a searchable version of our current UCR faculty profile pages that will:

•    help faculty find other faculty for research collaborations.

•    help potential funders identify faculty with appropriate expertise.

•    help UCR identify faculty to nominate for awards, provide expertise on selection committees, meet with prospective donors, etc.

•    attract faculty and students with particular research interests to UCR.

•    connect external stakeholders (journalists, media, donors, investors, etc.) with subject matter experts among our faculty.

What if I don’t want to participate?

Faculty can opt out. 

What if the information is inaccurate or incomplete?

Faculty can edit their profiles.

Will this information be used for faculty evaluation?

Absolutely not. 

Will this replace eFilePlus?


What are some examples of how this platform is used at other universities?

 Once the platform is deployed, there will be ample opportunities for faculty to participate in information sessions to learn how to use it, so stay tuned for notices about those events. And remember, there will be a simple way to opt out if you choose not to participate. 

While these new investments are intended to foster collaborative research, I want to recognize the important contributions made by those who work alone. The books, articles, scripts, and artistic pieces produced by our individual faculty are vital to the scholarly and creative output that has put UCR on the map as one of the nation’s top research universities. Alongside the new campus investments, each of the deans is also committed to investing in infrastructure to support the research of the faculty in their respective schools and colleges.