Think Big Thematic Opportunity Hires Initiative

A woman teaching two students.

The Intersection of Humanity and Technology

About the Initiative

This initiative entertains proposals from the dean of each of the university’s eight schools/college to help hire faculty members who have a commitment to interdisciplinary research as well as a commitment to teaching. Selected scholars will also have a strong understanding of the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion in both research topics as well as classroom interactions.

Great researchers can also be great teachers!

Key Themes

The key themes for this hiring initiative fall into one of the following four (4) thematic areas:

  1. Next Generation Health & Disparities 
  2. Future Manufacturing & Smart Cities 
  3. Advanced Energy & Climate Challenges
  4. The Interface of Humanity + Technology (specifically, areas focusing on the intersection between AI, data science, computing, STEM, and the social science/humanistic disciplines)

The undercurrent in each of these—and serving as a foundational element of all that we hope to achieve—are data science, AI, ethics, and the intersections of humanity and technology.

Support Opportunities

To attract new faculty, the initiative will invest in new faculty startup support or salary support; and will provide funds for cross-disciplinary engagement. Additionally, as part of recruitment activities, the initiative will support bringing outside scholars to campus to share their research, as well as potential ideas around diversifying the campus community and culture. 

Accessing Support

Deans from each of the eight schools/college must submit a recruitment plan to the Office of the Provost, and receive approval to proceed with the plan. For more information, please contact the dean of the appropriate school or college, or contact the Office of the Provost.  

To apply for a Think Big Thematic Hire Faculty position, the Dean’s Office must submit a two-to-three-page plan to the Provost’s Office and receive formal approval. These proposals are accepted on a rolling basis. Submissions to the Provost should include the following:

  • A description of the thematic hire area, including alignment to Federal research priorities, both current and emerging (if applicable).
  • If a tech-related hire is being proposed, a description of the hire’s connection to the human/social element of the initiative must be included.  If a human/social hire is being proposed, a description of connections to the tech-related element of the initiative must be included.
  • A description of how the department will work on integrating the scholar into different disciplines, and how the school and department will meaningfully support knowledge acquisition at the edges of disciplinary fields.
  • A description for why this hire is important to the scholarly direction of the university.
  • An explanation of community-building opportunities for the recruited scholar, both within the department, across disciplines, and across the institution.
  • A description of the cross-disciplinary activities proposed, including names of potential colloquia/seminars, classes, or research programs that would be offered within the first two years of the hire’s arrival (utilizing the “Cross-Disciplinary Dialogues” funding mentioned above). We would like regular reporting on these activities and their outcomes as they are planned and implemented. This is vital to our metrics. 
  • A written demonstration of how the Department/Unit/College has been using its existing budget, resources, hiring strategies and programming to promote diversity in its faculty, staff and students as well as its culture, curriculum and climate.

As a reminder: Applications to participate in this initiative need not be part of the regular faculty recruitment timeline, but can be submitted at any point as opportunities arise. We do need a breakdown of how funds will be applied and matched. A school/college must demonstrate its ability to carry each hire within its budget, particularly after the Thematic funding is expended.

Once proposals are reviewed, discussed, and approved, an MOU will be developed to set up CASE accounts for the funding.