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   from the issue of April 14, 2005

Funding provided for 11 'Programs of Excellence'

Eleven programs have been identified as priorities and will receive enhanced support from UNL's "Programs of Excellence" base funding from the current academic year.

Those programs include: Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Plasma Physics; Behavioral Health/Sociology of Health; Ecology and Evolution; enhancing undergraduate education; Honors Program; J.D. Edwards; Nanoscale Science and Technology; seed funding for developing collaborative programs; Simulation and Computing Engineering; Survey Research and Methodology; and Water Research Initiative.

The programs were identified from applications reviewed by: the Academic Planning Committee; Harvey Perlman, chancellor; Barbara Couture, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs; John Owens, vice chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Prem Paul, vice chancellor for research and dean of graduate studies.

Couture said the final decision leans heavily on the recommendations of the Academic Planning Committee.

Perlman, Couture and Owens are responsible for the final selection of grant winners.

The NU Board of Regents started the process to target the highest priority academic programs on each of the university's four campuses in 2000. Beginning in 2002, the regents established the Programs of Excellence grant fund to strengthen priority programs.

Couture said the fund remains important.

"It is absolutely critical that we see Programs of Excellence continue," Couture said. "When we have budgets that are tight, we need to ensure that these types of programs are allowed to move forward without losing steam.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be on a campus that has a program like this."

Descriptions of the 11 programs selected in March:

• Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Plasma Physics: $290,000 in POE funds ($80,000 in recurring funding) will support salary startup for the recruitment of an assistant professor, beginning in 2006-07. This appointment will compliment existing research efforts, provide essential support for theoretical physics with the Olson Chair of Physics, and contribute to establishing a premiere high-intensity laser facility at UNL.

• Simulation and Computing Engineering: $210,000 in recurring POE funds ($70,000 in academic year 2005-06 and $140,000 in AY 2006-07) will build additional faculty strength in the areas of information engineering and computing security and telecommunications engineering. One senior and three junior faculty members will be added to the UNL Department of Computer Science & Engineering. The award is supported by a commitment of substantial matching funds from the Peter Kiewit Institute.

• Honors Program: $85,000 in recurring funds to allow UNL to grow the honors program by 50 students and expand the number of honors offered to existing students.

• Nanoscale Science and Technology: $218,545 in POE funds will contribute to phased hiring, including salary and startup, of four faculty members in engineering mechanics, physics, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. The inter-disciplinary program - administered by the Center for Materials Research and Analysis and including 65 faculty members from numerous departments - organizes large-grant group projects with external funding levels at approximately $8 million. The award is supported by additional contributions from the colleges of Engineering & Technology, Arts & Sciences and the vice chancellor for research.

• Survey Research and Methodology: $50,000 in recurring funds to provide faculty enhancement and operational and staff funding to supplement a previous POE award for a faculty position, supported with an endowed chair.

• Behavioral Health/Sociology of Health: $140,920 in POE funds to provide partial salary support to recruit a leader in the field to fill the Othmer-endowed Bruhn professorship. It will also support the recruitment of a complementary quantitative methodologist and research assistants. The program is supported by the colleges of Arts & Sciences, Education & Human Sciences, and Graduate Studies.

• Ecology and Evolution: $100,000 in POE funds to support the hiring of a faculty member whose research focus will complement UNL's current strength in population biology. Startup funds of $250,000 ($125,000 in AY 2005-06 and $125,000 in AY 2006-07) will be used to support the recruitment process.

• Water Research Initiative: The Water Research Initiative is a multi- and interdisciplinary, collaborative effort spanning several colleges and departments. The initiative is completing four interdisciplinary faculty hires in AY 2004-05. This award of $45,000 ($22,500 in AY 2005-06 and $22,500 in 2006-07) in recurring funds reflects collaboration between the WRI principal investigators and the College of Law.

• J.D. Edwards: $453,600 in POE funds to support instructional funding for faculty in partner colleges on a temporary and transitional basis (AY 2004-06).

• Seed funding for developing collaborative programs: One-time award of $25,000 in POE funds to provide a seed grant to develop a two-year study of 40 students as they enter and transition to the university. Remaining funds in this category ($32,000 in one-time dollars) will be allocated to support collaborations in other areas, including biomedical engineering.

• Enhancing Undergraduate Education: One-time funds for projects to enhance undergraduate education. Those funds include: $259,000 for general-purpose classroom improvements; $100,000 for a consultant to analyze life sciences labs; and $63,000 for Cedar Point Biological Field Station.



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