STEM Central

A Community of Practice for NSF STEM Projects

Comments from the Project Sustainability Group

I'll try to briefly summarize the conversation of those around the table with me first.  The big question is, what do you do when the money runs out?  The folks at Texas A&M have identified elements of their programs for which people (students/other programs) are willing to pay (e.g., semesterly tutoring charges, summer bridge program charge).  This creates sustained income to keep the program going.  The Boise State representative talked about Faculty Development -- building in new opportunities through the Teaching and Learning Center for STEM faculty to reinvent the way they teach their subject. Building relationships and leveraging other complementary programs on campus is key.  Eventually, funding must come from both internal and external sources.  Institutional type matters.  For Ph.D. granting institutions, there's a challenge in getting faculty to commit to a cultural shift, since research rules the day.  Institutions need to recognize the value of outstanding and innovative teaching, and it must be more of a factor in tenure and promotion decisions.

The challenges we face come not only from end of the money associated with our grants, but also from the time commitment needed to sustain the programs.

As for tomorrow's break-out sessions, I would encourage us to think about our audience.  Some of the discussion tonight centered around advice for would-be STEP Grant writers -- how would we have done things differently if we were starting from scratch, knowing what we know now.  Building sustainability into the proposal (or the thinking behind the proposal) seems obvious now, but it wasn't when we wrote our proposal.  But I would say that we must also address the audience of exisiting grantees--what are the things we can be doing to insure sustainability?  How do we judge our success in this regard?