Imagine Fund Arts, Humanities, and Design Chair Awards

Application Deadline: Monday, January 29, 2024 for a collaborative program of activities taking place September 2024–August 2026.

The provost has established two University Imagine Fund chairs; one is awarded each year. During each two-year award, the faculty awardee receives up to $100,000 to work with a group of faculty, staff, students, and other collaborators to create a program of activities for the University community and the community at large. The goal of these projects is to catalyze cross-departmental, intercollegiate, multi-campus, and collaborative work. The committee encourages applicants to demonstrate success in working collaboratively with others, to build on existing work, or begin new work that will benefit from a highly collaborative process.

The chair position supports an emergent process that includes a generative first year and a second year of visible public activities that engage the campus and local communities. With chairs awarded in successive years, the dual chairs and their staggered terms will establish a rhythm of one chair beginning its generative phase while the other culminates with significant public engagement activity.

Applicants for the chair role must be tenured or tenure-track faculty in the University of Minnesota system. Eligibility does not include: visiting faculty, students pursuing a Ph.D., non-salaried faculty appointment type W, or employees with T appointments or A appointments.

The chair can either assemble collaborators, or groups can come together and name a chair from among the collaborators. The outcome of these activities should galvanize sustained intellectual dialogue around a particular academic theme. The program of interrelated activities can include workshops, symposia, reading groups, speaker events, public engagement actions, partnerships across and outside the university, graduate and undergraduate classes, exhibitions, lectures, and performances.

Criteria for selection:

  • Proposed project is collaborative, cross departmental, and interdisciplinary. Involvement of more than one campus is encouraged.
  • Plan appears to be achievable by the team involved.
  • Purpose/goals are clearly stated.
  • Generative phase addresses purpose in sufficient detail.
  • Activities are likely to be attractive to proposed audience(s).
  • Activities advance project goals.
  • Activities advance University of Minnesota mission, values, and goals.
  • Project includes significant public engagement activity.

Application review will begin soon after the application due date, and the new chair—whose term will run from September to August —will be announced by April 15.

Application Instructions

Applications will be submitted online via InfoReady Review; the portal will open in September 2023. Uploaded documents must be either Word or PDF; budget documents may be in Excel, Word, or PDF.

Fields to be filled in on the form:

  1. Name and department of nominated chair. This lead person must be a faculty member (tenured, or tenure-track) from the arts, humanities and/or design fields. (Two leads may alternate years as named chair. If there are two leads, please list both.)
  2. Title(s) of the proposed project(s)
  3. Name(s) and department(s) of collaborators
  4. Email of the applicant’s department chair. The application will be routed to the department chair, who must indicate support for the applicant to assume the Arts, Design, and Humanities Chair role and carry out the proposed project(s).
  5. Emails of the department chairs of all team members who plan to use award funds for a course release to cover replacement teaching costs for a course release. The application will be routed to these department chairs to indicate their support of the course release.

Required documents:

  1. Project narrative (up to 1,200 words) describing:
    • the goals and rationale of the project(s)
    • proposed activities
    • audience(s)
    • how the project will incite cross-departmental, interdisciplinary, and collaborative work.
  2. Curriculum vitae for lead person(s)
  3. Two-year project schedule. Include plans for the generative phase and program of activities.
  4. Budget, including lead chair stipend of $5,000 and costs associated with replacement teaching for  any proposed course releases. See budget instructions below.
  5. Budget justification describing why budget items are necessary and explaining the basis for cost estimates.
  6. Images, maps, information graphics, and other visual items are highly encouraged as supporting material for the full application.

Direct questions to: Chris Bremer ([email protected]), Provost’s Office]


Funding Parameters for Imagine Chair Position

All applicants must submit a budget and budget justification. The details of the budget will be reviewed with the awardee. While there may be flexibility with allocations, the following serves as a guide to the distribution of the $100,000 budget.

  • Salary/stipend of $5000 per year for named lead chair. 
  • Discretionary Funding (for chair). These funds are intended to advance the project and can be used for any program activity support such as: venue fees, hosting expenses, refreshments, marketing support, etc. ($15,000-$25,000 per year)
  • Course release(s). These may be included as expenses for replacement teaching. Budget may include up to four course releases (depending on budget/availability), to be decided and distributed among team members (lead/chair and collaborating team members) at the discretion of the chair. These team members must be UMN faculty, and the majority must be from arts, humanities, and design fields. Distribution of these course releases should adhere to the following guidelines:
    • The chair may receive a maximum of two course releases over the two-year period (no more than one per semester).
    • Supporting team members can also receive one release per semester. These releases may be interdisciplinary, with team members coming from more than one department.
    • Course releases should be distributed, when possible, in a manner that strives to include system campuses.
    • There will be no more than one course release per person per semester.
    • These course releases must be accounted for in the $100,000 budget and approved by department chairs.
  • Non-UMN Collaborators (team members/speakers/artists/participants). Funding for honoraria, hotel/rental fees, airfare, etc. ($15,000-$25,000 per year).
  • Marketing Support, including promotional, graphic design, and production services ($5,000).
  • Production Support. These funds will support the production of some concrete outcome from the two-year project—publication, website, blog, piece of art, etc.—and can be used for graduate student salary and fringe, graphic design, print, web support, etc. ($10,000-$15,000).
  • Departmental Support. Although it is anticipated that departments will provide some in-kind support, the budget may include up to $2,000 to offset costs for departmental administrative staff support ($2,000).

Recipients are asked to provide a publicly retrievable record of the project in the University Digital Conservancy or elsewhere in order to document the project (e.g. documentation through texts, photography, or other media).  Details will be available at the time of award notification.