Learning Through Research

Guidelines for Proposing a New CUR Institute

Guidelines for Proposing a New CUR Institute

September 2003

CUR Institutes are two- to three-day meetings at which a small group of the faculty and/or administrators meet to discuss an issue related to undergraduate research and/or faculty development. The usual objectives for an institute are specific plans to either provide a better environment for their institution or themselves and their students. Depending on the focus of the institute, either teams or individuals can attend.  CUR is open to new ideas for institutes and is especially interested in ones related to CUR’s strategic directions.
The format of an institute is a mixture of plenary sessions and individual and/or small-group sessions depending on the goals of the institute. Plenary sessions may be followed by "town meetings" where all participants can participate in discussion. The central focus of CUR institutes is the development of specific plans or other products such as an application for funding. Thus, sessions in which teams or individuals work to develop plans or products are an essential component of any CUR institute. 
There are generally three types of leaders at a CUR Institute. (1) Coordinators. Most CUR institutes are organized by coordinators. Frequently there are two coordinators at each institute. One typically arranges the program and the other serves as the local host. It is important for institutes held on college campuses that at least one coordinator be from the campus. Knowledge of local conditions and local staff are critical in resolving any logistical problems. (2) Plenary Speakers. Plenary speakers constitute the second group of leaders. Since the primary focus is on the work of the teams or individuals, the number of plenary sessions, and hence the number of plenary speakers, should be limited. Plenary speakers may only attend the institute for their talk. The plenary speakers may be chosen to provide inspiration or a model of how to address an issue related to the theme of the institute. (3) Facilitators. The final group of leaders is the facilitators. The number of facilitators varies with each institute. For the Institutionalizing Undergraduate Research institutes, there may be one facilitator for every two institutional teams. For the Proposal Writing Institute, each facilitator works with no more than four individuals. Facilitators should be from various disciplines and types of institutions, and should have successful experiences related to the theme. The role of the facilitator is not to tell the teams or individuals what to do; it is to ask questions so that the teams or individuals consider all aspects of the solution they propose. In some cases (such as the Proposal Writing Institute) the facilitator is expected to be able to constructively critique drafts of proposals in order to improve the quality of the proposal. A facilitator can also serve as one of the plenary speakers.
Where are CUR institutes held? Typically they are held on a college campus. Participants may or may not be housed in dormitories. If hotels are used, they should be close to the campus and inexpensive. The ease of transportation from airports to the site and from hotels to the campus should be carefully considered. Institutes can be held at other locations such as retreat settings if these venues can provide the needed services such as lodging, meals and meeting rooms and if they are easily accessible and affordable.
Social events are another component of institutes. Each Institute schedules a special meal, a reception, or an activity not directly related to the theme of the institute. Past examples include riverboat dinner cruises or other local-flavor activities.
The overall financial aspects of a proposal are as important as the theme. Costs must be manageable by faculty at primarily undergraduate institutions. CUR does not have the financial resources to support institutes that do not generate sufficient revenue to cover costs.
How to Propose and Develop a New CUR Institute
The process for proposing an institute is an iterative process involving feedback from the Outreach Committee (a CUR committee with representatives from each of the CUR divisions), the National Executive Officer (NEO) and the Executive Board.
Proposers of new institutes are encouraged to contact the NEO, the CUR Outreach Committee Chair and the CUR Outreach Committee for informal feedback during the development of preliminary proposals (see below). Proposers should simultaneously contact both the NEO and the CUR Outreach Committee chair to facilitate a speedy review process. Proposers are also advised to consult with other CUR Institute Coordinators for advice about organization, formats and schedules. The National Office can provide names and contact information.
The Outreach Committee will review pre-proposals and full proposals either at the annual business meeting or via email between meetings. When the proposal has taken shape, the National Executive Officer (NEO) will begin to work with the proposer(s) to develop a business plan (budget and a marketing plan) for the institute. Typically, the NEO will also consult with the Finance Committee concerning the business plan. Once the Outreach Committee is satisfied that the institute is carefully conceived and that it will serve the needs of some or all of CUR’s members (either individuals or institutions), it will recommend approval to the Executive Board. The Executive Board will receive the recommendations of the Outreach Committee and the NEO - Finance Committee, and will approve the institute as an official CUR institute, reject it, or send it back to the proposers and Outreach Committee for more work.
A preliminary proposal for review by the Outreach Committee should include the following items. 
Preliminary Proposal
  1. Title
    The title should be descriptive of the institute and should indicate the kinds of outcomes planned or expected.
  2. Purposes/goals/outcomes of the institute
    This is an important component. The purposes should be clearly related to one or more of CUR’s strategic directions. The goals or outcomes are what the participants will "take home"; these should be tangible. For example, if the purpose of the institute is to support faculty development, teams should have a document that outlines a plan, a timeline for implementation and a designation of who is responsible for the components.
  3. Audience for the institute and marketing strategies
    What groups of faculty and/or administrators will benefit from this institute? How will they learn about the institute?
  4. Relationship (if any) to other institutes
    Is this a stand-alone offering? Will it build upon some other institute or meeting that CUR offers? If so, which one or ones?

Full Proposal

  1. Title 
    (see above)
  2. Names of two people willing to serve as the first two Coordinators
    Typically, one of the coordinators will focus on the programming and the other will focus on the site and related hosting issues. The coordinators are expected to work together on all aspects as needed. 
  3. Names of potential facilitators
    Potential facilitators should be willing to participate if the institute is approved thus they should be contacted prior to submitting the proposal.
  4. Purposes/goals/outcomes of the institute 
    (see above)
  5. Program or schedule of events
    A schedule of plenary speakers, group or individual working time, meals, breaks, etc will help the proposer to identify where and when the purposes/goals/outcomes will be achieved. A simple list of workshops or sessions is not sufficient. This task will be easier if the proposer consults with other CUR Institute Coordinators or the National Office for examples of successful schedules. If participants are expected to provide some material (a draft of a proposal or a summary of the problem to be addressed) prior to the institute, it should be indicated. Likewise, if post-institute activities are expected, they should be described.
  6. Audience for the institute and marketing strategies 
    (see above)
  7. Relationship of institute to other CUR programming 
    (see above)
  8. Supporting documentation or materials
    Will participants receive a book or a collection of reading materials related to the theme? Do these currently exist? If not, who will produce them and when?  Will any written material be a product of the institute? For example, would someone write a new "How to" booklet or an article for the CUR Quarterly? Written materials are not a requirement of a CUR institute.
  9. Teams or individuals?
    Will teams of faculty and administrators be expected to attend or will individuals attend? For institutes whose primary focus is a change in the institution or a culture change within a department or college, teams with at least one administrator are strongly advised. For other institutes where the product is focused on a single person, individuals are expected.
  10. First location
    The first site for an institute should be suggested. Ideally this will be a college campus and ideally at least one of the coordinators will be a faculty member or administrator at the campus. The Executive Board would like to see a letter of support from the host institution.
  11. Approximate dates for the institute
    It would be helpful to know why this time has been selected.
  12. Assessment measures – short- and long-term
    A survey of participants should be conducted at the end of the institute. This survey should solicit participant feedback on all aspects of the institute. There are a number of surveys already in existence that could be modified. Initial products of the institute should be described. Will drafts of proposals be prepared? Will plans to solve a problem be developed? These should be collected as documentation of the work accomplished. Finally, there should be some follow up to gather information on whether any long-term impact was achieved. How will this be done and when? It is critical for CUR to be able to demonstrate the success of these programs. 

Budget for final proposal
The budget should include the following sections. CUR is very conscious of the total cost of each institute per participant. Every effort should be made to keep costs as low as practicable.

  1. Housing
    Will the participants be housed in dormitories on campus or in nearby hotels? What are the costs associated with these options? Include hotel taxes. Even if participants will pay for these separately, we need to know what the approximate fees will be.
  2. Public transportation
    Some institutes have included transportation from nearby airports or train stations as part of the institute’s cost; others have left this up to the participant. CUR needs to know how the transportation between airports/train stations and the institute’s location will be handled and typical costs. How easy is it to get from the nearest airport/train station to the meeting site? What is the distance? Is the airport served by a number of airlines?
  3. Local transportation
    What kinds of transportation needs must be addressed to get participants from their lodging to the meeting site? Are there transportation needs to get participants from campus to recreation or banquet sites? …costs?
  4. Estimated costs for facilitators
    This should include travel costs and honoraria. (CUR sets the amount of the honoraria.) The number of attendees and the type of institute will determine the number of facilitators. Since this number may be unpredictable, a high and a low estimated budget will be generated.
  5. Approximate ratio of attendees to facilitators and number of plenary speakers
    These numbers affect the transportation and honoraria costs.
  6. Special materials
    This category includes special books that are purchased for each participant or copying of materials for distribution.
  7. Food services
    This category should be itemized according to on-campus and off-campus food service. Regular meals, a banquet and breaks should be included.
  8. Facilities charges
    CUR tries to reduce costs per participant by using facilities that do not charge for meeting rooms, A/V usage, computer access, etc. If these must be paid for, what are the costs?
  9. Personnel charges
    Some campuses charge a fee for administrative support. 
  10. Other expenses
    The CUR office will work with the proposers to establish costs for communications (advertising), minor supplies and CUR office support as needed.

Summary of Requirements 

  1. Topic (related to CUR’s vision and strategic directions)
  2. Objectives (there should be concrete products – drafts of proposals, plans to implement the program, etc)
  3. Length 2-3 days
  4. Format (mixture of plenary sessions, individual or small group sessions)
  5. Leaders
    1. Coordinators – one should be a member of the host campus; one oversees programming in cooperation with the other. Together they select participants, handle assessment efforts, and arrange for plenary speakers.
    2. Plenary speakers – number is determined by goals of the institute but should be limited
    3. Facilitators – number is determined by goals and type of institute; plenary speakers can be facilitators. Facilitators should represent various disciplines, various types of institutions and should represent successful examples of the institute’s goals. The exact role is to support the teams or individual in achieving their goals.
  6. Location (preferably a college campus that is easily accessible via public transportation)
  7. Lodging (dormitory or inexpensive hotel)
  8. Target audience (individual faculty members, administrators, or teams of both from academic institutions)
  9. Social events (at least one, can be a welcoming reception, a special dinner, a brief excursion)