About the FEI Program
The primary goal of the FEI program is to improve the overall quality and competitiveness of the University of South Carolina by focusing positions in areas that advance the institution as a recognized leader in education and scholarship.
Faculty will be recruited for each of Carolina's 13 degree-granting colleges and schools either as an innovative hire or in clusters typically comprised of two to three faculty members in different disciplines with a single, cross-disciplinary academic focus.
FEI clusters span multiple programs, departments, schools, or colleges, and reflect the opportunity to leverage existing University resources and programs to establish USC as a nationally rising or recognized leader in the identified area. A lead dean is identified to be responsible for coordinating the application and subsequent hiring. A single search committee, composed of faculty from all of the units comprising the cluster, is formed to recruit the faculty for each FEI cluster.
Thus far, the University has recruited and hired about 45 FEI faculty members, and about 20 more offers have been extended. As of mid 2007, searches were underway for 25 more, and 30 additional positions were approved in June. The vast majority of these positions will be recruited as multi-disciplinary clusters; a few FEI faculty will be recruited as individuals to strengthen a particular area of scholarship.
As South Carolina's FEI clusters begin to develop, it is becoming evident that a wide variety of academic collaborations are possible. For example, Stephen Sheehi, a faculty member in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and Director of the Arabic Program, and Waleed El-Ansary, a Religious Studies Assistant Professor, are focused on Middle Eastern culture and philosophy. "The Faculty Excellence Initiative is a brilliant way to maximize the University's research capabilities and strategically position ourselves," said El-Ansary who was engaged this past year in a science and religion group led by psychology faculty member Daniel Buxhoeveden, with research focused on the interconnections between religion, science, and economics.
Examples of recently approved FEI clusters include "Establishing Faculty Excellence in Photovoltaic Power," a collaboration among the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering; "African Studies," a cluster involving Departments of History, Education Leadership and Policies, Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, and Political Science; "Toxicity and Environmental Fate of Emerging Contaminants and Microbial Toxins," a partnership of Departments of 0Civil and Environmental Engineering, Environmental Health Sciences, and Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology; "Interdisciplinary Research on Nanoparticle-Host Cell Interaction," a group effort between the Departments of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology and Chemistry and Biochemistry. Click here for entire list of current FEI clusters and positions.
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