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Towsley Research Scholars Program

The Towsley Research Scholars Program is made possible by a grant from the Towsley Foundation of Midland, Michigan. Income from this endowment allows us to appoint a Towsley Research Scholar each year. Each Towsley Research Scholar holds the fellowship for four years. The first Towsley Research Scholar was named in 1997. Current Towsley Scholars are: Deborah VanDuinen, Beth Anderson and Ernest Cole.

Towsley Award History

Application is by invitation from the Provost to eligible faculty as described below.

Criteria and Conditions

  • Open to tenure-track faculty (Assistant Professor rank only) who are in the third year of their probationary period (including those with 0 or 1 year prior credit; anyone with 2 years of prior credit is ineligible for this award).
  • A competitive grant proposal is required along with a current curriculum vitae and chairperson's letter of support (see below). All application materials should be submitted electronically (word or pdf, not scanned) to zylman@hope.edu. Multiple files acceptable.

Submission Deadline: October 1, 2014 - late proposals will not be accepted.

Conditions include releasing the faculty member for a one-semester sabbatical during her/his fourth year and a limitation of $12,000 for the hiring of a sabbatical replacement. Your department chairperson must write a letter of endorsement agreeing to the conditions of the grant and addressing your teaching effectiveness.


  • The person named as a Towsley Research Scholar will receive $4,000 each summer following years three, four, five, and six in her/his probationary period.
  • The Towsley Research Scholar will receive a one-semester sabbatical during her/his fourth year.
  • The Towsley Research Scholar's department will receive up to $12,000 for the hiring of a sabbatical-leave replacement.

Criteria for Evaluating Proposals

  • Demonstrated competence in the faculty member's field of study.
  • Demonstrated teaching excellence at an appropriate level for a new faculty member.
  • Presentation of a promising plan for the development of a long-term research program.
  • The degree to which the proposed plan is likely to bring benefit to Hope students.

Proposal Guidelines

The following outline of a grant proposal should be used as a guide. It is important to address all the issues contained in these guidelines. It is most important that you present a coherent proposal in which you lay out a vision for your scholarly development over the next four years and that you help us as educated readers to understand the significance of what you propose to do, its relation to your previous work (if any), and its relevance to Hope College students.

  • Background: Describe the work that you have done on this topic and show how it is related to or different from that of other scholars.
  • Description of the project: Describe what you intend to do, your research methodology, the resources that will be required, the location of the research, and anything else that is relevant to our understanding of it. Do not use a project description from a recent grant proposal. Write a description that is both detailed and understandable by a reader who is not an expert in the field.
  • Timetable: Indicate what you will do during each of the four summers, during the intervening academic years, and during the two sabbaticals (i.e., not only the sabbatical during the fourth year, but also during the first regular sabbatical following the awarding of tenure).
  • Long-term professional goals: Briefly describe your scholarly goals for the next decade or so and explain how the activities described in the previous sections fit into those long-term goals. In this section it will be important to demonstrate the long-term sustainability of the proposed project and how you intend to sustain your professional vitality during your career.
  • Outcome or product: Indicate what your intended outcome(s) is(are). Your goal may be to produce a number of essays which will be combined into a publishable book-length manuscript or you may intend to present a number of papers or poster sessions at professional meetings and to publish one or more papers. Specifically address how your work will bring benefit to Hope students.
  • Assessment: If there are assessable outcomes beyond those listed in the previous section, please describe them.

Review Process

The proposals will be read by members of the Deans' Council. Proposals will be evaluated according to the criteria and ranked by each evaluator. The final selection will be based on the ranking and by consensus of the Deans' Council.

It is not necessary for you to write your proposal in isolation. You are encouraged to seek advice from colleagues, including your chairperson and your dean. Our goal is to have you write the strongest possible proposal, and that means addressing each of the six guidelines. Even though only one person can receive appointment as the Towsley Research Scholar, everyone can benefit from writing a strong proposal, for it will not only help you to clarify your scholarly goals, but it will also provide a solid foundation for submitting grant proposals for both internal and external funding. Examples of successful Towsley proposals are available in the Provost's Office for your reference.

Please contact your dean or the provost with any questions.