Faculty Excellence

Update--January 18, 2021: The suspension of non-essential university travel remains in effect. Please discuss travel with your chair/dean to determine whether it qualifies as essential. See the university statement "Travel Advisories and Policies" for more details. 

Funding opportunities for virtual conferences, research materials, and other non-travel expenses remains available through TAPS. Please email CFE Chair Brock Adams at badams@uscupstate.edu if you have any questions.

The members of the Committee for Faculty Excellence (see list below) support and promote faculty excellence and faculty development in the areas of teaching and productive scholarship. The committee:

TAPS Grants Overview


The purpose of the USC Upstate Teaching and Productive Scholarship (TAPS) Fund is to promote faculty excellence in teaching, research, and service. Specifically, TAPS grants support faculty projects that improve pedagogy and further traditional and innovating research, scholarship, and creativity. To this end, the Committee for Faculty Excellence annually recommends the awarding of internal grants from the TAPS fund.

TAPS Application Deadlines

TAPS applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but should be submitted no less than three weeks prior to domestic travel (including Canada) or four weeks for travel advances and prior to international travel. Applications submitted less than three weeks before domestic travel or less than four weeks before international travel are not guaranteed to go through the entire approval process. There are several levels of approvals both before and after the committee vote, including additional steps for international travel and travel advances. Therefore, you are encouraged to submit your TAPS application as soon as possible, ideally a month or two in advance of travel or the beginning of a project. Please remember, travel cannot be funded retroactively. 

TAPS Grant Eligibility and Limits

Tenured faculty members, tenure-track faculty members, and full-time instructors may apply for eligible projects in research, teaching, and service. Currently, each faculty member may apply for up to $1,750 in domestic expenses (including Canada) or $2,250 in international expenses (or a combined maximum of $2,250) per year. These limits are reviewed periodically by the Committee for Faculty Excellence and depend on available funds.

TAPS Grant Criteria and Application Forms

Policies Approved by Faculty Senate, September 2014 
Format Converted to Electronic January 2015

The Electronic TAPS Grant Application in SharePoint is now available. Paper applications will no longer be accepted.

  • As you complete the form, choose save after you have completed the fields marked with a red asterisk (*). Then choose save and continue to resume working on the application or save and exit if you wish to end the session and resume work later. Saving your work early and then regularly afterwards will.
  • Please note limits to character amount and types in the Project Title and Attachment fields.
  • SharePoint works best with Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
  • Please see the Application Instructions below, including a sample project narrative and itemized budget for travel.
  • Video and checklist-based tutorials are available on the TAPS SharePoint website.
  • See the TAPS Grant Complete Policies and Guidelines PDF Document for more details.
Application Instructions

All applications for TAPS Grants will be accepted through the SharePoint Online Application System.

NOTE: Be sure to follow limits to character amounts and types in Project Title and attachment names. Google Chrome and Internet Explorer are preferred browsers for Sharepoint. The IT Help Desk can provide technical assistance with any USC Upstate Sharepoint application. 

Project Description (max. 250 words):

Offer evidence of the ways the proposal fits the eligible projects criteria in research, teaching, and/or service (see above). To be considered for funding, the applicant must submit the following:

  1. a description of the activity, including dates, location, and amount requested in first line;
  2. the procedures/methodologies used;
  3. the expected result and further direction; and,
  4. if applicable, strategies for assessment of the project’s results (e.g., in activities to enhance pedagogy).
  5. Applicants who are presenting at conferences should substantiate the significance of the conference in relationship both to their academic discipline and to their own professional development and/or scholarly/creative agenda.
  6. For presentation of co-authored posters, papers, presentations, and workshops, applicants must explain the necessity and benefits of funding more than one USC Upstate author. In particular, each applicant should discuss his or her individual role in the scholarly work being presented. Without such justification, only one USC Upstate author will receive TAPS funding for the presentation.

Sample Narrative:

I am requesting $1670.00 to reimburse the costs of printing and presenting a poster entitled “Effective Grant Writing” at the 89th Annual Meeting of The International Grantwriting Conference to be held June 1-3, 2013 at the Sparkle City Convention Center, Sparkle City, NM.  This conference is the most significant meeting of scholars in my discipline and offers an opportunity to network with others in my grantwriting field. My own presentation is part of my ongoing research in non-profit administration and will contribute to a manuscript in progress. Supporting documentation of paper acceptance, conference registration, and other costs are provided below.

IRB Statement of Human/Vertebrate Animal Subjects Review Board Approval:

Applications should include a statement indicating whether this project is

  • exempt (include exemption letter), or
  • this project does not require IRB approval because no human or animal subjects were part of the research (N/A), or
  • IRB approval was obtained (include approval letter).

In accordance with University Guidelines (SPAR 1.10 and ACAF 1.03) all laws, regulations, and ethical principles applicable to the protection of human and vertebrate animal subjects in research will be followed. All projects seeking funding through the Committee for Faculty Excellence involving humans and/or vertebrate animals as research subjects must have approval by the appropriate committee. IRB approvals from prior institutions covering work to be presented are acceptable. A statement of approval or the official IRB exemption notification letter must be submitted with the grant request for work involving humans or vertebrate animals.

IRB information and approvals for new projects are administered through the USC Office of Research Compliance. The online IRB system. The username and password are the same as your Blackboard username and password. IRB-related questions should be directed to Thomas Coggins at tcoggins@mailbox.sc.edu.

Itemized Budget:

The proposal must include a detailed itemized budget, rounded to nearest dollar. Each item, such as each piece of equipment should be justified briefly here as to its use in the described budget. Documentation in the form of receipts, fee statements, or price quotes must follow.

Sample itemized Budget for a Conference: 

 Expense and Cost 
Registration Fee (do not include society membership or fees for business lunch or special events) $155
Airfare *current fare rate estimate or actual fare for economy class $675
Mileage to-from Airport: # miles round trip @ $.52/mile  (Rate as of January 2021) $58
Baggage: $25 each way $50
Airport parking # of days at $5/day $20
Taxis & Local Transportation estimate: airport shuttle  roundtrip fees and taxis $60

Meals: # of days at daily rate: in-state $35, out-of-state/Canada $50, international $75. Time of departure and return affects per diem. For individual meals and partial days:

In State:

$35 per day


$8 breakfast


$10 lunch


$17 dinner

Out of State/Canada:

$50 per day


$10 breakfast


$15 lunch


$25 dinner


Lodging: at Conference Hotel rate including estimated taxes: # days at rate + tax $350 maximum
Poster Printing at Office Max *Add Purchase Requisition Form $99
Total (rounded to nearest dollar) $1599.00 (RIGHT CLICK, SELECT “UPDATE FIELD” TO CALCULATE TOTAL)
Amount provided by Department -$500
Amount provided by Department -$500


Documentation should include attachments or Web links to:

  • conference abstract,
  • notification of acceptance,
  • registration fee form or conference Web page listing fees,
  • airfare (estimate or actual) or mileage for long trips (maps are not necessary for local travel, such as travel to/from airports),
  • hotel fees
  • Airline baggage fees, airport and hotel parking fees
  • miscellaneous
Application Criteria

NOTE: Projects requiring IRB approval cannot be funded without appropriate IRB documentation.

  • Successful proposals include a narrative with clear organization, cohesion and a clearly-defined statement of purpose, goals and objectives.
  • Successful proposals support institutional and/or unit goals and objectives.
  • Successful proposals demonstrate the proposed project's potential to contribute to the individual's professional development and/or scholarly/creative agenda.
  • Successful proposals demonstrate the significance and/or potential of the proposed project to contribute to the field, the knowledge domain and/or society.
Eligible Projects

The main purpose of TAPS funding is to support individual faculty members in their faculty development. Eligible projects are aligned with promotion and tenure, administrative review, and post-tenure review categories of teaching, research, and service.

  1. Research: Research, scholarly, and creative activities that contribute to the faculty member’s scholarly agenda especially with the goal of publication and/or formal presentation at conferences significant in the faculty member's discipline.
    • Eligible
      • Activities may include travel, research equipment and expendables, or salaries for support of research projects.
    • Ineligible
      • Please note limitations on travel expenses below.
      • Merely attending a conference, which is passive participation/learning, will not meet the criteria for funding.
      • When more than one faculty member applies to complete the same activity in support of research, applicants must explain the necessity and benefit of funding more than one USC Upstate faculty member. Each applicant should discuss his or her individual role in the research project or presentation. Without such justification, only one USC Upstate faculty member will receive TAPS funding for a single research activity.
      • Equipment that is not specific to an individual faculty member’s research activities should be obtained through other university sources, such as the university technology fund.

  2. Teaching: Scholarly activities designed to improve an individual faculty member’s pedagogy and curriculum at USC Upstate and contribute to University and/or unit mission, such as active paritcipation in special courses, workshops, or institutes.
    • Ineligible
      • Merely attending a conference, which is passive participation/learning, will not meet the criteria for funding.
      • When more than one faculty member applies to complete the same activity in support of teaching, applicants must explain the necessity and benefits of funding more than one USC Upstate faculty member. Each applicant should discuss his or her individual role in the program and in the pedagogy or curriculum to be developed or improved. Without such justification, only one USC Upstate faculty member will receive TAPS funding for a single teaching activity.
      • Collaborative teaching projects undertaken by a college or department with the aim of improving a program rather than individual faculty member’s teaching activities should seek funding through other avenues.
      • For technology and other equipment for pedagogy or curricular development, applicants should seek funding through other avenues; e.g., TAPS funds cannot be used to provide a biology lab with dissection equipment.
      • Students attending conferences should seek funding through Student Affairs and/or SARS.
      • Due to University policy (ACAF 2.10), TAPS funds may not be utilized to fund program leader expenses for faculty/staff-led international study abroad programs. Faculty interested in coordinating a study abroad program are encouraged to contact the Center for International Studies for assistance with financial planning for international studies at studyabroad@uscupstate.edu
  3. Service: Major service activities in a professional organization requiring the application of scholarly and/or professional knowledge. Applicants for the Teaching and Productive Scholarship Grants are encouraged but not required to present research in addition to completing service at conferences.
    • Ineligible
      • Merely attending a conference, which is passive participation, will not meet the criteria for funding.
      • When more than one faculty member applies to complete the same activity in support of service, applicants must explain the necessity and benefits of funding more than one USC Upstate faculty member. Each applicant should discuss his or her individual role in the program and in the professional service to be completed. Without such justification, only one USC Upstate faculty member will receive TAPS funding for a single service activity.
Application Materials Checklist
  1. Brief Project NarrativeLimit 250 words. Include type of activity, dates, location, and total requested in first line. Offer evidence of the ways the proposal fits the eligible projects criteria in research, teaching, or service.
  2. IRB Statement and Official Letters: Indicate n/a if no animals or humans involved, explain if the project does involve humans but does not require approval or official exemption, indicate exempt and include official exemption letter, indicate approved and include official approval letter in documentation. See USC Office of Research Compliance.
  3. Itemized Budget: List details of expenses for accommodations (fee/day), registration, transportation, per diem, equipment, student salaries, and other costs. Pleas round the requested amount to the nearest dollar.
  4. Documentation of All Budget Expenses: Include receipts or fee statements for the following:
  • Registration Fee
  • Hotel Fees (plus taxes)
  • Estimated/Actual Transportation Costs (airline, baggage fees, parking, and ground transportation. OR, if driving, MapQuest printout with beginning and ending destinations)
  • Other Expenses (i.e., poster materials, equipment)
Guide to Expenses

Allowable Expenses

  • Conference or institute registration
  • Accommodations and lodging for travel over 50 miles from Upstate or place of residence (NOTE: nightly total for accommodation cannot exceed $300 a night)
  • Transportation (airline, baggage fees, parking, and ground transportation. OR, if driving, MapQuest, Google Maps or similar printout showing mileage with beginning and ending destinations at state mileage rates* (current rate on TAPS application form)
  • Per diem (see in state, out of state and international allowances on TAPS application form)
  • Student/other salaries plus fringe benefits
  • Equipment plus sales tax
  • Publishing costs
  • Expendable supplies plus sales tax

*NOTE: University procedure for FINA 1.00 states, “If a private vehicle is authorized the University will pay mileage or economy airfare whichever is less.”

 Excluded Expenses

  • Membership dues,
  • Specific conference meals or entertainment not included in registration fees
  • Student travel
  • Retroactive expenses
  • Research expenses in connection with faculty member’s degree requirements
  • Textbook writing for financial gain
  • Air travel at rates above economy class
  • Rental car fees are not refunded in addition to air travel without detailed justification
  • Travel for merely attending a conference with no related presentation, workshop, or major professional serviceE activity (see “eligible Projects” above).
  • Tips for services (restaurant, transportation, etc.), particularly if indicated in the receipt


deadline for Submitting Receipts

In September 2014, the USC Upstate Faculty Senate voted to eliminate the requirement for final reports.

All recipients of TAPS grants are required to submit all receipts to their administrative assistants within 30 days of the recipient’s return from a trip or within 30 days of expenditure for non-travel grants. For recipients of TAPS grants who fail to do so or who fail to notify the committee of cancellation of a trip within 30 days after the scheduled trip, the unreported amount will be deducted from the maximum amount the recipient will be eligible to receive in the next fiscal year. Timely submission of receipts prevents the loss of funds at the end of the fiscal year. Appeals to the Committee for Faculty Excellence (formerly the Teaching Excellence Committee) will be decided based on their merits.

Please contact Brock Adams, CFE Chair, or your unit representative for questions about TAPS grants or other CFE issues.


21 Sirajul Shibly

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21 Matthew Donaldson 

21 Scott Meek

21 Robert Sarver

23 Karen Lounsbury

23 Matthew Placek

23 Anita Nag
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23 Steve Hyun

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22 Grover Walters

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22 Kendra Allison

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22  Andrew Kearns
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22 Brock Adams

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22 John Strandholm 

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22 Kelvin Wu


Derham Cole
Interim Chancellor 

David Schecter