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STARs Program for Academic Affairs
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 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. STARs awards must be expended within three years of the date of initial appointment or notice of retention.
Information about the STARs program for health institutions can be found here.
The STARs program has three related goals. The first goal is focused on retaining high-quality faculty who have offers from other research institutions or have the potential to leave because of limited access to quality equipment and/or laboratories.
The second goal is to recruit senior faculty who have “star” status — or the potential to become a star. These individuals are established faculty members at top-tier institutions who require significant startup packages to support recruitment efforts.
The third goal is to improve the quality of new faculty and research capacity of our academic institutions by augmenting the start-up packages for tenure-track assistant or early associate professors. These Rising STARs are identified by their potential to significantly advance focus programs established as institutional priorities.
Criteria for STARs
A STARs or Rising STARs award provides 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 is considered as a critical factor in the application review process. Such commitment can include salary support and any other part of the recruiting package such as technicians, graduate students, post docs, 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 proposals for funding should consist of a letter of recommendation from the President or the President's designee, the candidate's curriculum vitae, a budget, and a clear justification for additional equipment and renovation needs for recruiting new faculty. The letter of recommendation should clearly communicate why this candidate is considered to be a very promising member of the faculty.
STARs for the Recruitment of Rising STARs
- The Faculty STARs Program includes funding for Rising STARs. Up to $300,000 is available for recruitment of promising faculty members who are recruited in a tenure-track position at any academic level, i.e. assistant, associate or full professor. Rising STARs funding is limited to the same equipment and renovation expenditure restrictions as Faculty STARs.
- Rising STARs proposals for funding should consist of a letter of recommendation from the President or the President's designee, the candidate's curriculum vitae, a budget, and a clear justification for additional equipment and renovation needs for recruiting new faculty. The letter of recommendation should clearly communicate why this candidate is considered to be a very promising member of the faculty.
STARs Application Process for Competitive Awards
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:
- Will the applicant be bringing any research dollars?
- What funding agencies are likely to be a target for research proposals?
- Provide a general list of equipment and cost estimates.
- Include a brief discussion of how the equipment will assist in obtaining research funding.
- The application review process is administered through the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Office of Academic Affairs. All awards receive final approval by the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
The UT System will establish a process to track and report results to heighten awareness and to place particular emphasis on promoting diversity in this program.
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. Return of investment (ROI) is an important criteria considered by the UT System Board of Regents when considering continued support for this program.