Cluster Hire Program

Request for Cluster Suggestions

The Office of Academic Affairs, in collaboration with the Research Office, is pleased to announce a call for proposals for faculty cluster hires. The purpose of this program is to broaden and deepen research at OU by creating a critical mass of faculty across schools and departments in the College in promising new areas of research.  A successful cluster will be one that attracts significant external research funding, provides opportunities to support graduate and undergraduate students, and that catalyzes collaboration across disciplines.


A model cluster might, for example, be composed of 5 hires: a very senior researcher/scholar (perhaps attracted by an endowed chair); 2-3 established scholars/researchers with active funding; and 1-2 positions for early career faculty.  It is expected that clusters will be intellectually diverse and reflect academic breadth of the university’s capacity in the topic area.

Cluster proposals are expected to request between 3-5 strategic hires.  Clusters should therefore include proposed hires in at least two Schools (or one School and the College) and at least three departments. NOTE: These are guidelines and all proposed cluster configurations will be considered as long as the proposal demonstrates how the cluster meets the larger goals of this program.

Strong cluster proposals should also demonstrate that the university already has some existing strength in the area proposed; this could include faculty strength, but may also include other types of programs on campus that could serve as the locus for a cluster, or some feature of our region that would lend strength to an Oakland-based cluster.

Faculty with questions are encouraged to contact Dr. Stone (



In order to assist groups of faculty in responding to this RFP, the Research Office held 3 events during which faculty from across campus will have the opportunity to share their research and their ideas for potential clusters. Following these events, faculty will have four weeks to submit their joint cluster proposals.

Because successful clusters are likely to be those that involve disciplines that cross departments and schools, it is essential for faculty to connect in order to share ideas and jointly develop cluster proposals. The purpose of the Faculty Networking Events is to allow faculty to describe their areas of research interest and expertise and to permit time for faculty to mingle, network, and discuss areas of shared or related interest. 

Presentations on the Networking Events

There were three events in December 2019 and January 2020:

  • Friday, December 13 - Slides are available via our espace if you click this link
    • Log-in with your OU email, and click the Enroll Me button when logged into espace to access the file.  
  • Friday, January 10 - Slides are available via our espace if you click this link
    • Log-in with your OU email, and click the Enroll Me button when logged into espace to access the file.  
  • Thursday, January 16 - Slides are available via our espace if you click this link
    • Log-in with your OU email, and click the Enroll Me button when logged into espace to access the file.  

The events were open to all faculty.   



Three Sample Clusters (from another university)

 Materials Science

  • Identified and launched in 2017
  • Focused on the discovery and design of new materials with the goal of addressing some of the world’s most pressing scientific and technological problems
  • Hired three full-time tenure track appointees
  • Units involved:
    • College of Science and Mathematics
    • College of Engineering and Computer Sciences


  • Identified and launched in 2017
  • Interdisciplinary approach to meeting challenges of water management and sustainability
  • Intended to develop significant collaborative research, teaching, and outreach programs
  • Hired three full-time tenure track appointees
  • Units involved:
    • Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Management
    • Department of Geography
    • Department of Geological Sciences
    • Department of Political Sciences

 Health Equity and Diversity

  • Identified and launched in 2018
  • Integrates social and health sciences research that addresses economic, racial/ethnic, ability, and other inequalities and inequities in the Health Equity Research and Education Center
  • Hired three full-time tenure track appointees
  • Units involved:
    • Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
    • Department of Health Sciences
    • Department of Psychology

Other examples of clusters:


Proposals must include the following elements: 

A one page executive summary

A four page rationale for the cluster detailing all of the following:

  • a description of the thematic research area and the proposed cluster
  • a description of the existing activities/strengths upon which the cluster will build and an explanation of how the cluster will leverage existing assets and resources
  • evidence of existing and stable external funding (faculty should work with the Research Office and/or Advancement to identify funding possibilities)
  • evidence that the cluster/thematic area is one in which OU can be competitive for external funding (and identification of who the likely competition is)
  • a plan for organizing and managing the cluster/thematic area to ensure that the group works synergistically
  • a description of how the cluster could also support the strategic goals of the university, specifically related to student success and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Brief descriptions of the intended positions, including the role/importance of each to the cluster and their home department (two pages total)

A description of any equipment and space needs (one page)

Two page CVs of each of the existing OU faculty members who will participate in the thematic research area

Letters of support from the Deans of the participating Schools and/or the College


Proposals will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

1) evidence of existing activity/strength in the thematic area among OU faculty/programs that would serve as a solid and attractive basis for the cluster

2) evidence of existing and stable sources of external funding that could support the work of the cluster

3) evidence that existing OU strengths plus those of the cluster would make OU competitive for external funding in the thematic area of research chosen for the cluster (major competitions should be identified in the proposal)

4) strength of the rationale for the specific proposed positions

5) potential contribution to student success and community engagement

6) potential to include or attract diverse faculty

Proposals will be reviewed by a committee composed of Deans and others, and chaired by Dr. David Stone, Chief Research Officer. The committee will make a recommendation to the Provost, who will select the winning proposal(s) in consultation with Dr. Stone and the President.



Proposals are due February 28, 2020.

To submit a proposal, use infoReady REVIEW:

  • Sign in using your Oakland email credentials and select “Cluster Hire Program” under current opportunities to submit your application.
  • Make sure to submit all elements listed above under "Proposal Requirements".

For specific questions about using infoReady, please contact Sue Willner at or (248) 370-4111.

For general questions about the cluster hire initiative or your proposal, contact Dr. Stone (



RFI posted: 11/22/19

Faculty Networking Events: 12/2/20 – 1/31/20

Proposals Due: 2/28/20

Committee Review: 3/9/20 – 3/27/20

Decision announced: 3/31/20