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STARS Program

STARS Program
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In August of 2004, The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved an allocation of funds to be awarded to System institutions to help attract and retain the best qualified faculty. The STARS (Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention) program provides funding to help purchase state-of-the-art research equipment and make necessary laboratory renovations to encourage faculty members to perform their research at a UT institution.  Funded through the Library, Equipment, Repair, and Rehabilitation (LERR) program, STARS awards have been given annually through a competitive and non-competitive process to institutions eligible to receive funds from the Permanent University Fund.  Because of the statutory limitations on LERR funds, STARS awards are limited to expenditures for research equipment and laboratory renovations. LERR funds cannot be used towards salaries, travel, or moving expenses.

Since 2004, the Board of Regents has allocated funds towards the STARS program, in varying amounts:

 

Total STARS allocation for academic institutions

Competitive STARS funding available to academic institutions

Non-competitive STARS funds available to academic institutions

FY 2005

$32.45 million

$17.85 million

$14.6 million

FY 2006

$15 million

$15 million

N/A

FY 2007

$20 million

$10 million

$10 million

FY 2008

$10 million

$10 million

N/A

FY 2009

$10 million

$10 million

N/A

FY 2010

$15 million

$15 million

N/A

FY 2011

$10 million

$10 million

N/A

FY 2012

$10 million

$10 million

N/A

FY 2013

$10 million

$10 million

N/A

FY 2014

$10 million

$10 million

N/A

FY 2015

$10 million

$10 million

N/A

Information about the STARS program for health institutions can be found here.

Program’s Goals

The STARS program was first approved to encompass three related goals. The first goal was focused on retaining high-quality faculty who had offers from other research institutions or had the potential to leave because of limited access to quality equipment and/or laboratories. All the nominees were rated by a panel of scientists, which include members of national academies.

The second goal was to recruit senior faculty who had “star” status — or the potential to become a star. These individuals were established faculty members at institutions such as Carnegie Mellon, California Institute of Technology, Stanford and the like. These nominations were reviewed and ranked by a national panel of scientists.

The third goal was to improve the quality of new faculty and research capacity of our academic institutions by augmenting the start-up packages for tenure-track assistant professors. These non-competitive block grants were supervised by the academic officers at each institution.

Criteria for FY 2014 STARS:

In August 2013, the Board of Regents approved the use of $10 million of Library, Equipment, Repair, and Rehabilitation (LERR) monies for purchase of equipment and renovation of facilities required as part of the recruitment of particularly outstanding faculty in the academic institutions. These monies are meant to supplement institutional resources for the purpose of recruiting the very best faculty. Successful nominees will have a firm institutional commitment that amounts to not less than 10% of the amount awarded by System. Such commitment can include salary support and any other part of the recruiting package such as technicians, graduate students, equipment or other essential needs of the investigator.

STARS for the Recruitment of Nationally-Recognized Faculty

  • Priority will be given to recruitment of individuals with national reputations and promise of election to national honorific societies, such as the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, among others, or those who have been already elected to these organizations.
  • Factors which will be considered for the use of these monies include:
    • The extent to which the recruitment will provide outstanding scientific leadership in an area of significant strength to the individual institution, e.g., the addition of a high-quality research program in an underdeveloped area within the institution, or a substantial enhancement of an existing program.
    • The extent to which recruitment provides important research leadership in a priority area for the University of Texas System and/or the State of Texas, e.g. research in underdeveloped aspects of science, engineering, or technology or for moving to a higher level in an established program.
    • The extent to which the recruitment would introduce a researcher into high quality collaborative activities involving interactions between health science campuses and academic campuses, or among multiple campuses.
    • The extent to which the recruitment will contribute to scientific development in areas bridging multiple disciplines, enhancing translation of research from bench to bedside, or provide scientific or technological skills supportive of a number of other investigators and/or programs.
  • Individuals nominated for these funds should show evidence of accomplishment in research with demonstrated capacity for nationally competitive extramural research support and graduate student training.  There should be clear justification for additional equipment and renovation needs from the STARS Program for amounts from $100,000 to $500,000 for recruiting new faculty. Some faculty recruitments may require substantially more than this amount, and in such cases the institutions would be expected to provide a larger amount of support for the recruitment.

STARS for the Recruitment of Outstanding Teachers in STEM

  • Priority will be given to recruitment of individuals that demonstrate superlative accomplishments and scholarship in educational and instructional processes, including traditional, on-line, distance or blended methodologies.
  • Factors which will be considered for the use of these monies include:
    • The extent to which the recruitment is integral to high quality teaching, training, and mentoring programs for graduate and professional learners at all levels within The University of Texas System and/or the State of Texas.
    • The extent to which the recruitment will contribute to teaching excellence in bridging multiple disciplines, and using the latest technology to engage students and other faculty.
    • The level of participation in and service to professional growth in teaching, advising, and curriculum development and enhancement.
    • Evidence of teaching accomplishments at both the institutional level and through recognitions received outside the home institution (at the regional or national level).
  • Requests for funding must explain how the nominee has made an impact on teaching and learning at the home institution, and discuss the expected impact of the recruitment on teaching and student success at the recruiting institution. There should be clear justification for additional equipment and renovation needs from the STARS Program for amounts from $100,000 to $500,000 for recruiting new faculty. 

STARS Application Process for Competitive Awards

  1. Institutions must include a cover sheet when submitting requests for STARS funding. Approval by the institution’s president or designee is required.  A resume or CV, three external letters of reference, and a budget justifying the amount requested must be attached to all proposals. Each request should address the following:
    1. Will the applicant be bringing any research dollars?
    2. What funding agencies are likely to be a target for research proposals?
    3. Provide a general list of equipment and cost estimates.
    4. Include a brief discussion of how the equipment will assist in obtaining research funding.
  2. A panel review committee will be appointed by the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, consisting of very high-level people (all national academy members) from within the UT System.  The committee will select its own chair and be staffed by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research. The committee will review all requests and set a goal of approving or denying each request within one week. The group will handle these matters mostly via email, with a conference call in close cases. The advantage of such a committee is consistency, speed, high standards, and credibility, which are crucial in recruiting and retention. To avoid conflicts of interest, a committee member will by rule abstain from voting on anyone from his/her institution.
  3. The System will establish a process to track and report results to heighten awareness and to place particular emphasis on promoting diversity in this program.
  4. With each award, the UT System will stipulate the indicators of progress and success for this funding, and will expect annual reports on this progress.
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