Faculty and Staff Research

Fisk University Faculty and Staff Research

The mission of Fisk University is to “provide a rich academic experience steeped in the liberal arts tradition. Our faculty, staff and students exhibit a passion for learning and personal growth. We are committed to ethical leadership and engagement in our local and global communities.” To fulfill this mission, a goal of the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) was identified as:

“To encourage the creation of new knowledge through research and scholarly activity of faculty and advanced students.”

Sponsored programs are projects and/or activities originated and conducted by members of the faculty and staff members. Program funding is usually obtained from government sources, but the private sector or joint academic ventures may also provide funding opportunities.

In the fulfillment of its duties, the Office of Sponsored Program serves as a liaison and facilitator among investigators, Fisk University administration, and funding agencies to assure the effective application for and administration of research and programmatic grants. The OSP is committed to serve its constituents in a professional manner. Its responsibilities include, although are not limited to the following:

  • alerts investigators and administrative staff regarding sponsored funding opportunities
  • helps individuals with proposal preparation, interpretation of guidelines, policies and regulations
  • negotiates/mediates with funding agencies and subcontractors to reach agreements satisfactory to sponsor, faculty and the University [a shared responsibility with the Vice-President for Financial Affairs]
  • for purposes of clarity, it reviews, revises and approves proposals to comply with Fisk policies and adherence to agency guidelines
  • aids investigators and staff with budget preparation
  • maintains reference books and brochures describing sponsor organizations and their guidelines
  • maintains pre-award proposal files, provides management information regarding pending and awarded grants and contracts, as well as federal budget and administrative rule changes
  • obtains authorized signatures for the sign off sheet for all applications
  • copies and mails completed applications to appropriate agencies
  • notifies authors of receipt of proposals by agencies
  • provides a completed copy of the proposal to the principal investigator (PI)
  • searches for grant opportunities (over a period of time) for a PI that has indicated a specific area of interest
  • comes to faculty offices to show interested individuals how to search for funding sources
  • publishes a newsletter at least once per semester
  • conducts workshops, seminars, etc. for groups ranging in size from small interest groups (two or three faculty interested in a particular area) to a Division or entire faculty and staff
  • assists faculty in the post-award phases of grant administration including the establishment of expenditure accounts, timely submission of reports, and grant close-out
  • oversees contract compliance (financial, reporting, management, deliverables, and other requirements)
  • maintains and records data concerning funded research


Contracts are legal agreements used to buy products and services. Failure by the contractor to deliver the results anticipated or to perform the work as promised is a breach of contract with legal ramifications.

A number of government agencies and businesses utilize contracts to support and conduct basic and applied research. They may be utilized for product acquisitions that range from information or technology supplies to sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment and systems. Service acquisitions range from complex field trials to information dissemination to management consulting.

Contracts may be awarded as fixed-price contracts, i.e., a set lump-sum payment is established in advance for performance of a specified set of tasks or delivery of a certain service (e.g., $/analysis). Payment is limited to the agreed cost multiplied by the number of units delivered.

Cost-reimbursement contracts provide payment for actual costs incurred, up to a maximum amount equal to the total estimated cost established when the contract was made. At times, the ceiling amount may be raised if the sponsor agrees to such costs, otherwise the contract may be discontinued.

Cooperative Agreement

A cooperative agreement is a mechanism in which a sponsor works jointly with the grantees in a partner role. This source of funding may involve both the government and the grantee sharing responsibility for programmatic and/or management portions of the project.

Each agreement will have its own specific terms of collaboration. The OSP will carefully review with the investigator the details of a proposed cooperative agreement. Other aspects of cooperative agreements follow the policies applicable to grants.


Grants are awards by a sponsor to achieve some general or specific purpose. Although generally less restrictive than contracts, technical and financial reports are generally required. Grants are awarded by a number of sponsors including foundations, industries or agencies of the federal government. Amounts and types of awards will vary. Many agencies offer several types of grant opportunities.

A partial list of funding sources from several federal government agencies is provided in APPENDIX A.


A broad range of sponsors may award individual fellowships to support educational or scholarly work in specialized areas of interest. Applicants meeting the requirements to qualify for specific fellowships in specified disciplines should seek foundations, governmental agencies and professional societies for sources of funding.


These are funds or tangible property provided to the University. Generally, the donor does not receive goods or services for the donation or gift. The donor may stipulate that the contribution is to be used for a designated purpose, but detailed expenditure or technical reports are usually not required as a condition of the award. However, good stewardship in the form of timely acknowledgement of gifts and reports on the use of funds, if appropriate, is necessary. These actions will help to build good donor relations in anticipation of future solicitation.