PI Academy - NIU - Division of Research & Graduate Studies

PI Academy for Research and Engagement

Research and engaged learning are central to the NIU Great Journeys Strategic Planning imperatives of enhancing the teaching and learning environment and strengthening and extending NIU’s regional and global reach. NIU's 12th President Douglas Baker has also emphasized research and engagement as critical components of NIU's mission. To support these central elements, the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships is sponsoring the NIU PI Academy for Research and Engagement with funding provided largely through the Great Journey’s initiative.


The PI Academy will provide professional development and mentoring to a cohort of approximately 20 junior tenure-seeking faculty with demonstrated potential and a clear expectation for attracting external funding for the research, public service, or other scholarly activities and who, through that work, will be well-positioned to provide engaged learning opportunities for their students. The professional development component will provide information and insight about the gamut of activities related to becoming a successful investigator including competitive positioning, grant writing, project management, research compliance, responsible conduct of research, working with sponsoring agencies, and sustaining funding over the long-term. Faculty members will learn how to develop and sustain successful working relationships with NIU units responsible for administration of grants and contracts, including the Office of Sponsored Projects and Grants Fiscal Administration. Additional training will provide a framework for understanding the process of engaged learning, as well as specific information about accessing NIU resources for incorporating engaged learning into their research and teaching.

Professional Development Program

PI Academy Scholars will take part in an integrated, year-long professional development program that will include a range of forms and types of monthly trainings, workshops, and other participatory and educational events. They will also be matched with a senior mentor who is a successful senior faculty member in their area of specialization from another institution in the US. That mentor will come to campus to meet with their PI Academy Scholar, conduct a presentation open to the NIU scholarly community, and interact in an informal setting with the scholar and members of NIU academic leadership. The mentor will agree to work with their Academy Scholar over the ensuing year by providing advice and mentoring around one grant proposal or publication.


Nominations of potential Academy Scholars are being solicited from department chairs. Successful candidates will be those who have already begun to successfully position themselves as active researchers. Their potential will be evaluated on the basis of their doctoral and post-doctoral training, publication record, prior grant experience, prior grant submission, pilot work and documented interest in engaging students in their research, scholarly or artistic endeavors. Chairs will complete the PI Academy Nomination Form and obtain approval from the College Dean. Nominations will then be reviewed by the PI Academy Steering Committee, and approximately 20 Academy Scholars will be chosen.