University of Minnesota
Office of the Vice President for Research

Office of the Vice President for Research : University of MinnesotaOffice of the Vice President for Research : University of Minnesota


Five Years Forward represents a bold vision for transforming the university's research enterprise through collective inspiration and discovery.

The plan is designed to advance the research mission over the next five years through four cornerstones and a set of supporting goals that will guide these efforts going forward. The plan was approved by the Board of Regents in February 2014. In March 2015, the executive steering committee reviewed 15 possible action items proposed by four faculty-led teams charged with identifying opportunities that would address the broad cornerstones and supporting goals outlined in the strategic plan. Of those items proposed, the steering committee selected two for immediate action (noted below). Several existing programs that advance the strategic priorities will continue to receive support. As these programs take shape and as resources allow, we will support other action items proposed by the cornerstone teams.

Increasing prominence of international research

An International Research Committee of faculty and staff reviewed the breadth of international research across the University and made recommendations to increase the prominence of international research to advance transdisciplinary partnerships. As a result, OVPR announces two funding opportunities that target primarily three geographic areas: (i) Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, and Nigeria; (ii) South-East Asia: Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand; and (iii) South America: Argentina, Chile, and Peru. Other countries may be considered.

(1) To advance and expand international collaborations, the Office of the Vice President for Research announces its International Visitor Fellowship program to increase collaborations in high-potential geographic regions where investments could significantly broaden the University’s international research collaborations. The program supports visits of international visitors from high-potential geographic regions who hold faculty or senior research positions at a university or research organization in their home country. Additional funding for up to $500 will be provided to the hosting academic unit for networking events.

(2)  To build capacity in centers and institutes to develop international research collaborations, the Office. of the Vice President for Research announces its Capacity Building: Developing Sustainable International Collaborations program. This competition is in recognition of the substantial coordination that is required to coordinate the development of international collaborations and grant proposals with international partners. It is expected that the effort will result in broad institutional capacity building, including identifying funding opportunities, facilitating proposal preparation, and providing project management support, and not just address a specific research project.

Program lead: Claudia Neuhauser, Associate Vice President for Research,

External stakeholder engagement

Working closely with the Provost’s Office, faculty governance and University deans, the Office of the Vice President for Research is developing an External Stakeholder Engagement program that promotes innovation broadly across disciplines and engages external stakeholders, such as industries, government agencies, nonprofits and community organizations. The engagements, which will range from one to three years, will be open to all academic units, and will be designed to catalyze and sustain research between the University and external partners to accelerate transfer of knowledge for the public good.

OVPR will be launching a pilot program for U of M Twin Cities colleges and schools in spring 2016 followed by a pilot on the system campuses. Through research associate deans of each of the Twin Cities colleges, OVPR is soliciting joint proposals from academic units and external stakeholders. A committee of University faculty and administrators will review the proposals; OVPR, academic units and external stakeholders will all provide financial support.

Program lead: Claudia Neuhauser, Associate Vice President for Research,

“Connector” positions

The university will identify, engage and empower connectors from across the U of M who will bring unrelated disciplines together in unpredictable, but uniquely effective ways. People who are already well-connected and have strong networks at the university are potential connectors. Other connectors could be developed and supported through capacity-building efforts. University connectors will identify U of M research interests that would benefit from multiple disciplines working together and will facilitate meetings between researchers across a diversity of academic units to promote a culture of serendipity.

As a “high touch” endeavor, connectors will go beyond simply conveying potential interdisciplinary opportunities or information via databases or websites, but will engage directly with faculty to build strong university-wide networks and facilitate collaborative research.

Program lead: Frances Lawrenz, associate vice president for research, Office of the Vice President for Research,

Existing programs that support strategic priorities

Several other existing programs that closely align with the strategic plan’s goals will continue to operate and receive additional resources as needed. For example, the Office of University Economic Development is working to advance transdisciplinary partnerships through the Corporate Engagement Workgroup, a U-wide partnership focused on aligning university economic development efforts, and ongoing relationship building with industry members and state and regional economic development groups. Through MnDRIVE and other research initiatives, we are continuing to build capacity, improve research infrastructure and enhance research excellence in key areas of university strength.

As these current programs take shape and as resources allow, we will support other action items proposed by the cornerstone teams.


Visit the individual cornerstone pages for additional information on progress.

Research Excellence

Transdisciplinary Partnerships

Knowledge Transfer