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New and Expanded Research Grant Programs

Dear faculty,

Last spring, I asked Associate Provost for Faculty Sumit Dhar to form a faculty workgroup to address two goals:

  1. Determine the extent and nature of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Northwestern faculty, including their research, teaching, career trajectories and well-being.
  2. Recommend strategies for addressing and mitigating challenges attributable to the pandemic that are specific to faculty.

The Faculty Pandemic Impact Response Workgroup, co-chaired by Karen Smilowitz, Professor, and Sumit Dhar, Professor and Associate Provost for Faculty, has kept me apprised of its progress over the summer and fall. I’m pleased to report the group’s work is nearly complete, and we will publish its comprehensive findings and recommendations in the coming weeks.

Among other topics, the report will address delays to faculty research, particularly for junior faculty and individuals who also serve as caregivers. The finding on caregivers recently was reinforced by Kellogg School of Management Professor Dashun Wang, who independently published a study that found the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on academic research that could take years to stabilize.

To help address this challenge, Northwestern today announces the establishment of a COVID-19 Research Recovery Grant Program to assist pre-tenure faculty whose research or creative work has been delayed, interrupted or otherwise disrupted as a result of the pandemic. This program divides the grants into two levels—Purple grants up to $50,000 and White grants up to $15,000, depending on expenses. Eligible faculty members can submit one proposal for the most appropriate grant level based on their individual research recovery needs. Priority will be given to those who are in their final three years before tenure review after accounting for clock extensions already granted and have had significant caregiving responsibilities during the period of the pandemic.

My office also is increasing funding for the 2021-2022 Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts Grants. Grants of up to $5,000 will be made to tenure-line and non-tenure-eligible faculty in the humanities, social sciences and arts fields. Priority will be given to non-tenure-eligible faculty, to faculty at any rank who have had significant caregiving responsibilities during the period of the pandemic, and to projects that assist faculty with recovery from COVID-19-related disruptions to their research and creative work.

Both of these grant applications will be reviewed by a faculty committee. The deadline to apply for the grants is Jan. 7. Please email if you have questions.

Many schools have extended research, teaching and other support programs to their faculty, and Northwestern will announce additional personal and professional resources that address recommendations in the Faculty Pandemic Impact Response Workgroup final report.

Thank you for your incredible efforts over the past year and half to continue teaching and research at the highest levels through an unrelenting pandemic. Your work has been impactful and inspirational. The pandemic is not over, so please know that Northwestern will continue to address the ongoing and evolving challenges to your well-being and success.


Kathleen Hagerty
Provost and Professor