Provost announces Academic Innovation Fund projects

In September, Patrick Monahan, vice-president academic & provost, announced the establishment of an Academic Innovation Fund and sought community input and proposals for projects. In this message to the York community, he reports on the results of the competition:

I am pleased to announce the awarding of $2.5 million in funding from the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) to 39 projects. The projects receiving funding were selected from a total of 99 applications, seeking total funding of more than $5.7 million. (To view a PDF of the successful projects, click here.)

Patrick MonahanRight: Patrick Monahan

I am delighted to report that the proposals came from faculty, staff and students from across the University, encompassing all aspects of teaching and learning and the student experience. While this excellent response meant that we were faced with making extremely difficult choices among many very worthy applications, it also confirmed the wide support for our institutional objectives in relation to teaching and learning and the student experience, and the shared interest in advancing these objectives in concrete and meaningful ways.

The decisions regarding allocation of the funds were the result of a rigorous review process that involved consideration by two independent committees, the first comprising the membership of the Working Group on Teaching and Learning and the second comprising the combined membership of the Working Groups on the Student Experience and Community Engagement and Outreach. These committees provided comments to the Provost’s Review Committee, which included the chairs of the working groups, and which in turn provided advice with regard to the projects that should be funded.

In making our decisions, we took into account a number of factors as described in the call for proposals, including the potential of the projects to enhance teaching and learning and the student experience and to positively impact a wide range of students and faculty; the innovation reflected in the proposals; and their sustainability. The projects selected are led by faculty, staff and students, and include both large pan-University or pan-Faculty initiatives and those that are more limited in scope but that we hope will point to opportunities in other areas.

I believe that, taken as a whole, the projects selected for funding will have a transformative impact on teaching and learning as well as the student experience at this university. Thousands of our students will be affected directly, positively and immediately.

The projects will have the effect of significantly expanding the nature and range of experiential educational opportunities we offer our students (including internships, co-ops, and in-class experiences); new coordinated approaches and pedagogies in support of technology-enhanced learning, including online and hybrid delivery of instruction, will be developed;  students will be supported to make the transition to university study and to succeed in their studies, for example, through in-person and virtual communities, advising, peer mentoring, and supplemental instruction; students will be given new opportunities to contribute meaningfully to our sustainability goals; and our community engagement and outreach efforts, both locally and internationally, will be broadened and deepened.

In short, faculty, students and staff from across the University will be involved in, and will benefit from, the projects that are being supported through the AIF.

The Provost’s Office will be working closely with recipients to assist in achieving our ambitious goals for the AIF. This will include putting in place assessment processes and means to foster and support collaboration and synergies among these and other ongoing initiatives, and to promote the sharing of ideas, resources and best practices, both among project proponents and with the wider community.

Finally, I want to congratulate and thank all of those who submitted AIF proposals for the care, time and effort they put into the development of their proposals, and for their commitment to enhancing teaching and learning at York and enhancing our students’ experience. I also want to thank the members of the working groups and the review committee who carefully reviewed all of the applications and provided their comments and advice.