The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

New faculty fund provides travel opportunities for professors

Photo by Austin Carey for The Lafayette
Michael McGuire, who chairs the Faculty Affairs and Resources Committee, praised the new fund for broadening access for professors.

College President Nicole Hurd announced the launch of the Faculty Excellence Fund during a September faculty meeting. The fund will benefit faculty members in their work outside of the classroom, setting up opportunities to attend professional conferences and engage in cutting-edge research.

Tenured and tenure-track professors will be able to travel to three academic events with reimbursable funding, with the first event allocated $2,500 for expenses and the second and third trips each allocated $1,500 for expenses. Adjunct professors are allotted one trip with a $2,500 coverage.

Previously, faculty could only travel to two events with funding from the school and oftentimes would have to pay out of pocket due to lack of funds.

Michael McGuire, chair of the Faculty Affairs and Resources Committee, expressed that this fund is an immense improvement from the previous model.

“If we’re paying out of pocket, [faculty] may elect not to go to a conference even though there may be value in it,” McGuire said. “So this does kind of change that math.” 

Throughout the past month, the administration has been in contact with faculty members to address the implementation of this fund.

“In the middle of September, President [Hurd] met with us and briefed us on this Faculty Excellence Fund,” McGuire said. “These are [the president’s] efforts to better support faculty in their research and scholarship and specifically travel to conferences because that’s how we spread the word about our research … we meet with colleagues and we get ideas … a lot of really important stuff happens at conferences.”

Hurd echoed the importance of this fund. “This was one of those places where if we want our faculty to know how much we value them, we need to move on this initiative,” she said.

In addition, the fund will help students who assist faculty research. Students frequently shadow faculty members in their research — approximately 50 percent of students are involved in faculty research in their time at Lafayette. 

“It’s particularly important that in addition to serving the faculty member in their scholarship, it also serves the college just because it gets the word out … the goal is to really help the entire Lafayette community, including students, be able to do research better,” McGuire said.

“Students and the college also benefit from faculty engagement in professional conferences, as faculty members return to classrooms bringing back insights from research in their fields,” Audra Kahr, vice president of finance and administration, said.

Lafayette currently has 247 full-time faculty members.

“The administration and alumni have responded to [the need to support faculty] by increasing available resources,” Kahr said. “The faculty has many active researchers and scholars, and supporting opportunities for them to share their work widely is important.”

Funding for this program has been kickstarted by donations and will be continuously supported via school-sponsored fundraising events.

“The fundraising efforts to support the Faculty Excellence Fund have commenced and we are grateful to a donor who has graciously kicked off this effort with a major gift,” Kahr said.

In the future, Hurd and the administration will be announcing a similar fund in support of the professional development of staff members.

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Austin Carey, Staff Photographer

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