The University of Nebraska allocates funding for areas of research, teaching and public service that are critical to Nebraska's public health, economic development, elementary and secondary education, and access to the university.
Since FY2003 the University of Nebraska has invested $30 million for Programs of Excellence (POE) on its four campuses. The purpose of the POE funds was to support campus priorities by leveraging a good program to attain a higher level of distinction and enhanced national reputation. Depending upon budget constraints, the annual distribution has varied between $1,000,000 and $3,000,000. In several years, no new POE funds were available. The POE funds are distributed across the four campuses through a proposal process administered by the Office of the Provost. Final POE funding decisions are made by the University of Nebraska President with recommendations coming from the Office of the Provost.
A study was conducted in 2012 examining 116 programs funded between 2003 and 2008. It was concluded that the $15.5 million Programs of Excellence (POE) investments resulted in the initial hire of 107 tenure‐track faculty and 90 non‐tenure track faculty, staff and graduate students. Campus matching investments were conservatively estimated at $32 million. Faculty associated with the programs of excellence impacted thousands of students through teaching, garnered $528 million in funding awards, and generated over 10,700 publications and presentations (Fritz, Pratt & Yates, 2013).
Fritz, S., Pratt, L., & Yates, K. 2013. Strategic Investment: A Case Study of Payoffs from Targeted University Funding. Journal of Academic Perspectives, 1‐10.
In 2017 the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost initiated a review of the impact of the second five years of POE. Although every program that receives POE funds has to submit an annual report of its activities and uses of funds, the purpose of the five‐year review was to determine the impact of POE investments on the campuses and on the University system over time. University of Nebraska campus‐level POE investments between FY2009 and FY2013 totaled $4,500,000. It is important to note that budget constraints in FY2010 and FY2011 resulted in no POE awards, and, as a consequence, it was anticipated there would be diminished impacts compared to the previous study.
With campus investment, however, the initial POE funds during the period under review supported in full or in part 30 tenure‐track faculty and six non‐tenure track faculty, staff and graduate students. The successful investment in faculty resulted in a growth of external awards and endowment gifts that were leveraged to assist in additionally funding three tenure‐track and one non‐tenured faculty. The programs under review garnered additional campus investments of $2,539,637 and University of Nebraska Foundation endowments and gifts earmarked for these programs totaled $16,395,000 through 2017. Faculty associated with these programs, successfully competed for external funding awards (grants and contracts) totaling $31,922,515 and presented and/or published 478 times.
Overall the POE investment has been very successful in building programs that led to new academic programs and enhanced research. All but a handful of programs that received a POE investment are in place today and continue to be campus priorities.