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Faculty Excellence Committee

Committee for Faculty Excellence (CFE)

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:

  • Reviews Teaching and Productive Scholarship (TAPS) Grant Applications, recommends the disbursement of the TAPS funds, and reports on grant activity. Electronic grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Expect a two-week response time during the regular semester, and three weeks over breaks. See Complete Guidelines below.
  • Selects faculty for the scholarly and/or creative pursuits award. Nominations are due February 15; portfolios are due March 15.

  • Selects faculty for the USC Upstate Annual Award for Excellence in Service. Nominations are due September 1; portfolios are due Nov. 1. 

  • Reviews sabbatical proposals, due electronically to CFE chair by the first Monday in October. Sabbatical policies are listed in the Faculty Manual (chapter 4). The detailed policies and procedures, including required elements of the proposal appear in the Faculty Handbook (on pages 17-18). 

  • Collects final sabbatical reports of accomplishments are due electronically to CFE chair two months after start of the semester in which the faculty member returns.  

TAPS Grants Overview

The purpose of the USC Upstate Teaching and Productive Scholarship (TAPS) Fund is to promote good scholarship including original research projects, programs that support curriculum development and travel for presentation of scholarship. Funded projects support faculty scholarship with the goal of formal presentation and/or publication, improve pedagogy and curriculum development to contribute to the USC Upstate mission and/or enable major service projects that require application of scholarly and/or professional knowledge.

TAPS Application Deadlines  
Tenured faculty members, tenure-track faculty members, and full-time instructors who are applying for TAPS funds are encouraged to apply early, at least one to two months prior to the start of their project or beginning of travel. Lead time for the committee to review and vote on electronic applications is at least two weeks during the regular semester and three weeks over breaks. This time could be extended if your application is missing relevant documentation or requires revision. Please remember, travel cannot be funded retroactively. Applications for conference travel will be accepted as soon as you have received notification of acceptance to present, but faculty members cannot apply for a second grant until receipts have been submitted for their first grant. In accordance with University policy, TAPS grants cannot be awarded for travel that has already occurred. 

TAPS Grant Limits
TAPS grants follow the USC Upstate fiscal year calendar. Faculty are eligible for $1750 toward eligible projects each fiscal year (July 1-June 30). Faculty members traveling internationally (excluding Canada) are eligible for an additional $250 toward international travel expenses or a total of $2000 for TAPS funding in a single fiscal year.

TAPS Grant Criteria and Application Forms 

Policies Approved by Faculty-Senate, September 2014
Format Updated September 2014
The Electronic TAPS Grant Application in Sharepoint is now available. Paper applications will no longer be accepted.

  • Please note limits to character amounts and types in the Project Title and Attachment fields.
  • Sharepoint works best with Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. 
  • See the TAPS Grant Complete Policies and Guidelines for more details.

Application Criteria:

  • 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.

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

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.

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.
  • Activities may include travel, research equipment and expendables, or salaries for support of research projects.
  • Note limitations on travel expenses below.
  • 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.
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 participation in special courses, workshops, or institutes.
  • 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.
  • Technology and other equipment for pedagogy or curricular development 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.
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.
  • 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:

Brief Project Narrative Limit 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
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 at http://orc.research.sc.edu/irb.shtml
Itemized Budget List details of expenses for accommodations (fee/day), registration, transportation, per diem, equipment, student salaries, and other costs. Please round the requested amount to the nearest dollar.
Documentation of participation in the proposed project Include conference abstract, acceptance letter/email, and/or conference program. Conference applications cannot be considered without notification of acceptance.
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:

  • conference or institute registration;
  • accommodations and lodging for travel over 50 miles one way (list fees/day);
  • transportation (airline, baggage fees, parking, and ground transportation. OR,  if driving, MapQuest printout with beginning and ending destinations at state mileage rates posted at  http://sam.research.sc.edu/guidetravel.html) *
  • per diem (see in state, out of state, and international allowances at http://sam.research.sc.edu/guidetravel.html)
  • student/other salaries plus fringe benefits for related projects;
  • equipment plus sales tax;
  • publishing costs;
  • expendable supplies plus sales tax
  • membership dues;
  • special conference meals or entertainment not included in registration fees;
  • student travel;
  • retroactive expenses;
  • research expenses in connection with a faculty member’s degree requirements;
  • textbook writing for financial gain;
  • air travel at rates above economy class;
  • rental car fees are not funded in addition to air travel without detailed justification;
  • travel for merely attending a conference with no related presentation, workshop, or major professional service activity (see “Eligible Projects” above).


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 Dr. Celena Kusch, CFE Chair, or your unit representative for questions about TAPS grants or other CFE issues.

CFE Committee 2014-2015