Faculty Research Assignments

Faculty Research Assignments (FRAs) support initiation, furtherance or completion of a specific research project. FRAs are usually not awarded merely to allow faculty members more time for research; most successful proposals encompass objectives that would be difficult to accomplish without a FRA. In any case, the proposed work must have its own coherence, limits, and purpose.

FRAs are awarded only when there is a reasonable prospect that the proposed project will have a positive outcome. Occasionally, awards are made for long-term research development.

Eligibility

Tenured faculty members—associate and full professors—who satisfy the following condition may apply for a FRA:  

  • By the beginning of the academic award year, the faculty member must have completed at least four academic years of service in residence at the university since any previous FRA award. (Example: A tenured faculty member who was supported by a FRA at any time during the academic year 2017-18 would be eligible to apply for another FRA to be held during the academic year 2022-23 provided the faculty member had fulfilled his or her normal duties at the university during all the intervening four academic years.) 

If there is no previous FRA award, then by the beginning of the academic FRA award year the faculty member must have completed at least four academic years of service in residence at the university.

Application

o apply, use the Graduate School Awards System in UT Direct starting September 14, 2021. The application deadline is October 14, 2021, but refer to information from the dean of your college or school for more details and any variations from the standard schedule.  Awardees should be announced by the Colleges or Schools in December 2021. 

All Faculty Research Assignment applications must be received and approved by the applicant’s department chair. Applications approved by the chair are then made available to the review committees (selected by the colleges) for review and decisions. The college dean is the final reviewer.

Amount, Tenure & Terms

The maximum amount of a FRA is the equivalent of one semester’s salary based on the faculty member’s nine-month academic base rate during the year the award is taken.  If, during the academic award year, the faculty member receives any other support that provides a salary or stipend, the Faculty Development Program award may be adjusted so that the combined amount does not exceed the academic rate. The reduction is not automatic—for example, in some cases, a FRA recipient will have extraordinary expenses in another country, and in these cases, the situation may require further discussion to reach a fair conclusion. In no case, however, will the maximum amount of Faculty Development Program support exceed the equivalent of one semester’s salary.

An award may be taken full-time for one semester or half-time for the academic year. If the award is taken full-time, it is expected that the recipient will be dedicated to their research during the entire award period. To prevent encroachment of teaching and/or administrative duties on research time, the recipient may not hold concurrent teaching and/or administrative appointments. If the award is taken half-time for the academic year (fall and spring), the recipient is expected to devote that half-time to their research; the other half may be used for any combination of research, teaching and/or administration. FRAs may not be extended into the summer term.

One of the considerations in awarding a Faculty Research Assignment is the benefit that will accrue to the university. The recipient is, therefore, expected to return to normal duties at the University for at least one academic year—Sept. 1 through May 31—following the FRA. A recipient who elects to leave the university without returning for an academic year, whether because of resignation or retirement, is obligated to reimburse the university for funds (gross salary plus fringe benefits) expended in support of the FRA.

The recipient of a FRA is considered to be an employee of the University for the period of appointment. In consequence, the recipient’s W-2 will show their income and withholding tax for the period of the appointment. If the recipient elects not to return to the university, they are considered to be in breach of their contract with the university with the result that the repayment is considered a “penalty payment.” It is the recipient’s responsibility to inform the Internal Revenue Service of their situation and negotiate any adjustments in reported income and withholding.

If you hold a FRA and wish to be on approved academic leave the year following your FRA but plan to return to your normal duties at the university the following academic year, an exception to the return policy may be granted. Such a request must be submitted in writingmust include a description of your plans and your reason for not returning the year following your FRA, and must be endorsed by your chair and dean. It should then be submitted to Associate Dean Marvin L. Hackert, Director, Faculty Development Program, Office of Graduate Studies, Main 101.

Requests are handled on a case-by-case basis and, if an exception is granted, it will be contingent upon your subsequent return to your normal duties at the university as outlined. If you fail to return, you will be expected to reimburse the university for the amount of the FRA, including any fringe benefits involved.

Method of Payment

Faculty Research Assignments are salary awards paid on a monthly basis by Payroll Services. Checks are issued on the first working day of the following month. For example, if you elect to have your award paid over the fall semester, your September paycheck will be issued on Oct. 1, your October paycheck will be issued on Nov. 1, etc. These awards are subject to all of the deductions that apply to teaching salary payments.