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To support the research and creative activities of COAS faculty who have a demonstrated record of outstanding teaching and to encourage senior faculty to mentor more junior faculty, a recent gift by James and Joan Van Vleck has created the Van Vleck Early Career Teaching Excellence Awards.


Jim Van Vleck writes: “When I was an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton, and more recently at the University of North Florida, I observed that tenure-track faculty who were passionately focused on excellent teaching and student learning, sometimes struggled to meet research requirements for tenure. These awards reflect my love of UNF, and my desire to support outstanding teachers in taking their place in academia.”


Awards will be given to up to two faculty pairs. Faculty pairs need not be working on the same research project (but they may do that if they wish to). Applications are reviewed by a committee composed of past winners of COAS faculty grants. This committee makes a recommendation to the Dean. Here is the award selection rubric.(Document will return once certified) When the review process is complete, applicants may request their rubric scores. The review committee does not provide written comments on proposals.


Award recipients may not apply for the Van Vleck Early Career Teaching Excellence Award in the subsequent year. Award recipients must agree to serve on a committee to review COAS grant applications in the subsequent year. (Faculty on leave are excused from this service.) Award recipients must also agree to offer a public lecture on the subject of their projects.


Applicants must be a pair of faculty partners. The junior member of the pair must be either an untenured tenure-track faculty member or an associate professor. The junior partner must have earned at least an “exceeds expectations” in teaching on the two most recent annual reviews. Preference will be given to faculty who have earned a “far exceeds expectations” in teaching. The senior member of the pair must be a tenured faculty member (if the junior member is untenured) or a full professor (if the junior faculty member is an associate professor).

Selection Criteria

  1. The quality of the junior partner’s teaching record.
  2. The quality of the junior partner’s research/creative activity project.
  3. The feasibility of the junior partner finishing the research/creative activity project before submitting the tenure/promotion dossier.
  4. The senior partner’s ability to assist the junior partner in relevant ways.

The description of the junior partner’s research/creative activity project should specify the anticipated products of the project (e.g., an article, a work of art). The research/creative activity projects of junior partners need to have significant merit, but a fully formed project is not required. The details and scope of projects and their products may evolve over the course of the grant period. 


  • The junior faculty member will receive $4,000 that may be used for a course release, supplies, equipment, or travel. The senior faculty member will receive $1,000 that may be used for supplies, equipment, or travel.
  • A junior partner who receives the award must agree not to submit a tenure or promotion dossier for at least 12 months after the following spring semester.
  • There is no expectation that the junior partner and the senior partner will be working on the same research/creative activity project.
  • Award winners are selected by the Dean upon recommendation of a committee composed of past award winners.

Application Format

For a proposal to be eligible for consideration, all questions must be answered completely and in the order indicated below. Applications which exceed the indicated word maximums will not be considered.

  1. Teaching Excellence Materials
    • The last two years’ annual evaluations.
    • Syllabi from all courses taught in the past two years.
    • ISQ scores from all courses taught in the past two years.
    • Applicants may, if they wish, include descriptions of innovative assignments given in courses taught in the past two years, 300 words maximum.
  2. The junior partner’s Research/Creative Activity Project Description, 300 words maximum.
    • What is the plan to complete the project?
    • What is the potential impact of this project?
    • How will this project benefit the junior partner’s ongoing scholarly/creative agenda?
  3. Partnership Plan, 200 words maximum. A jointly-written description of the partnership activities that will take place in the spring semester of the award and thereafter.
  4. A letter from the department chair that evaluates (a) the proposed junior partner’s teaching, (b) the proposed junior partner’s research/creative activity project, (c) the suitability of the proposed tenured partner, 200 words maximum. If the junior partner and the senior partner are from different departments, a letter from each chair (one about the junior partner, the other about the senior partner) is required.
  5. Award History. List any previous awards or funding secured since arrival at UNF.
  6. Project Budget, $4,000 maximum for the junior partner, $1,000 maximum for the senior partner, 200 words maximum.
    • Itemized budget that clearly indicates both what the junior partner will do with the funds awarded and what the senior partner will do with the funds awarded.
    • If relevant, list other funding sources for this project (include both requested and committed funds).
  7. CVs. A copy of the current CVs of both faculty members, limited to 2 pages each.
  8. Format Requirements
    • PDF Format
    • 12 point Times New Roman font
    • 1.5 line spacing with 1" margins on all sides
    • All proposals must be submitted electronically to
  9. Timeline
    • The submission deadline is October 1.
    • If this deadline falls on a holiday, it is extended to the following business day.
    • Awards will be announced by November 1.
    • All funds must be expended and all course releases must be taken before December 15 of the subsequent fall semester.

Questions? Contact Lev Gasparov

2020-2021 Van Vleck Award Winners

  • Gregory Kohn (junior partner) and Quincy Gibson (senior partner), Psychology & Biology: “Using convolutional neural networks to uncover how social coordination shapes welfare and fitness outcomes in animals.”
  • Chris Rominger (junior partner) and Denise Bossy (senior partner), History: “The Mediterranean Overturned: North African Identities at the Intersection of Empire.”

2019-20 Van Vleck Award Winners

  • Frank Smith and Dave Waddell, Biology, “Elucidating the Function of Fushi Tarazu during Tardigrade Development” (Document will return once certified)
  • Dawn Witherspoon and Jody Nicholson, Psychology, “Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors in Head Start Children in Duval County” (Document will return once certified)

2018-2019 Van Vleck Award Winners

  • Hannah Malcolm and Amy Lane, Chemistry
  • Kristina Lopez and Holly Miller, Criminology and Criminal Justice