Faculty Development Fund Guidelines

Overview and FAQ

What is the FDF?
The Faculty Development Fund (FDF) is a contractually negotiated collective benefit available to all members of the University of San Francisco Faculty Association (USFFA). Non-members (for example, part-time faculty, staff, and administrators) are not eligible to apply. The total amount of the fund is determined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). It is then distributed proportionally to each school or college. This document describes the process in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS).

What can FDF be used for?
According to the CBA, the FDF supports research endeavors that support “a candidate’s request for consideration for promotion or tenure,” and for the enhancement of “professional effectiveness” as defined in the CBA. There are two types of applications: travel (for conferences or research) and non-travel (typically equipment and research assistants). Funds can only be used for the purposes stated in the application.

How are FDF awards made in CAS?
The FDF committee currently consists of five full-time faculty members representing each field and four representatives of the CAS administration. All applications are reviewed by multiple committee members and then discussed; the committee works on a consensus model. Information about the current committee can be found under “Questions and Feedback” below.

How and when do faculty members apply for FDF funding?
All applications are submitted via the Gnosis system. No hard-copy applications or award letters are used. There are currently two funding cycles, one in the Fall (with an October deadline) and one in Spring (with a February deadline).

What do applicants need to submit?
The required contents for the different types of applications are found within these guidelines. Faculty are expected to read these instructions carefully and to provide everything requested; failure to do so is likely to result in delays, extra work for everyone, and often a denial of the application.

How many applications can faculty submit?
Applicants are welcome to submit more than one application within a cycle, although if there is a budget shortfall not all worthy applications can be funded. Applicants with more than one application are required to rank their applications according to priority order from most to least professionally significant.

Is the deadline flexible?
No, with the exception of rare circumstances for first-year faculty members as they get used to the system. Notifications and reminders go out many weeks before the deadline. For the FDF Committee to complete its work we need everyone to submit their applications on time. To avoid complications, please do not wait to submit until the last minute before the online system closes.

What are the possible results and how are those announced?
Applications are given one of three results: accepted, conditionally accepted, or denied. Award letters are sent shortly after the FDF Committee’s final decisions are made, typically about a month after the submission deadline for that cycle has passed.

  • Faculty whose proposals are accepted are free to use their funds as soon as they have received their award letter.
  • Applications that are conditionally accepted are typically those in which the applicant is awaiting an important piece of information (e.g., whether a paper has been accepted for a conference) or the FDF Committee is requesting additional information. Once the issue is resolved with the FDF Committee co-chairs, the application is accepted.
  • Applications that are denied are not funded. The applicant will receive an email summarizing the FDF Committee’s reasons for the denial. We encourage unsuccessful applicants to talk with the Committee co-chairs and/or their Associate Dean to learn more about the reasons for denial and then, when appropriate, to revise and resubmit for the following funding cycle.

What is the process for using the funds?
Travel and equipment expenses are handled through reimbursements, which are processed through Concur (see below for details); faculty are responsible for submitting receipts and using the account number listed in their award letter. Reimbursement requests should be submitted and within 10 days of the date of the expense. Research assistant payments are made from the faculty member’s FDF research account (see below for details); faculty are responsible for tracking student work hours and approving time sheets, using the account number listed in their award letter.

Travel Applications

General guidelines

All requests involving travel, either for conferences or for research purposes, should be submitted as travel applications.

Frequently asked questions

Should I apply before my trip, or wait until after it is completed?
Either is fine, as long as you are able to provide the required supporting documentation. However, since there is no guarantee you will receive FDF funding, most people prefer to apply before the trip rather than retroactively. Submitting too early, however, can lead to inaccurate price quotes. Preferably applications should be submitted within the same fiscal year as the travel.

I’m going to multiple conferences and/or research sites as part of the same trip. How should I handle this?
Please submit one application containing your entire itinerary. It is essential that you explain each part of the trip, its professional significance, and its relative priority, in your application; to provide any needed details in the itemized budget. You should also include a contingency plan (or Plan B) in the event that the FDF Committee denies or finds issues with one part of the application, including the costs of the trips if taken individually.

I’m going to miss class to attend a conference. What should I do?
You must fill out a Request to Be Absent form prior to your travel. This form must be signed by both the department chair and the appropriate Associate Dean. Failure to complete this form for FDF-related travel may endanger your future FDF travel applications.

I won’t find out if my conference paper was accepted until after the FDF deadline. What should I do?
Since priority is given to those who have a specific role at a conference beyond attendee, this is a reasonable concern. The best thing to do is to apply and to indicate when you expect to hear about your paper; cases like these often receive a conditional acceptance pending the acceptance of a paper. You can then update the FDF Committee when you’ve heard from the conference organizers. It is also a good idea to include in your statement of objectives any other professional reasons you plan on attending the conference beyond the presentation of a paper.

Are there any restrictions on travel to international destinations using FDF funds?
The FDF Committee doesn’t evaluate on the basis of travel warnings or unstable conditions in travel destinations. However, the list of faculty destinations is shared with the Center for Global Education and final discretion as to whether university funds can be used to travel to a particular country rests with the Provost.

Travel application form

The travel application form, found in the gnosis FDF application site, includes a 250- to 1000-word statement of objectives along with an itemized budget and budget rationale. Applications with inadequate statements, unjustified budget items, or inflated budgets are likely to be denied.

Travel expenses FDF will cover


Proof of conference registration that confirms the dates of attendance is required. Acceptable forms of proof include: an email from the conference organizers, a receipt, official quote, and/or a link and screenshot of the conference website confirming the dates and conference description.


USF policy regarding travel is that faculty can be compensated for either the driving mileage to and from their destination or the cost of air or train travel, whichever is less. The FDF Committee expects individual applicants to act responsibly with this collective benefit by keeping costs as reasonable as possible.

  • The FDF will fund the less expensive mode of travel. For example, driving 800 miles roundtrip to Los Angeles at $0.54/mile would be around $540, while a roundtrip flight to Los Angeles is $300. The FDF could only reimburse $300 should you choose to drive.
  • Airfare and rail travel must be coach.
  • Applicants should provide at least three airfare quotes, even if the airfare has already been purchased, and when they were compared. (Note: All quotes should be taken on the same day, as ticket prices change daily.) If you do not choose the least expensive flight, please explain in your budget rationale the reason for doing so.
  • Baggage fees of up to $25 each way ($50 roundtrip) will be funded.
  • Auto transportation mileage is reimbursed at $0.54 per mile.
  • Those applying for auto transportation costs must provide a map documenting the mileage (e.g., a screenshot of Google Maps driving directions). The starting location of the map must begin at the USF campus (2130 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA 94117) even if this adds extra miles.

Local transportation, airport parking, and car rentals

  • Local transportation includes taxis, buses, local trains, shuttles, tolls, and ride-sharing apps. The domestic limit for this is $150. In the case of international travel, these costs may exceed $150 and should be placed in the “Exceptions” field and fully described in your itemized budget.
  • Airport parking at San Francisco International Airport or Oakland International Airport is funded.
  • Car rentals may be funded only with a valid explanation in the itemized budget file. Car rental requests should be included in the “Exceptions” field. Add-on insurance for car rentals should be declined, as USF has an insurance policy that covers employees traveling for business purposes.
  • These expenses may be estimated and do not require documentation if travel has not yet taken place. However, if travel has occurred, copies of receipts must be submitted with your application. Retain your original receipts as they must be submitted with your expense reports.

Hotel or other housing

Faculty are asked to be responsible with FDF funds by selecting a hotel with the lowest reasonable rates for the area to which you are traveling.

  • The hotel is funded for the number of nights you will be attending the conference (or research activities) plus 1 night for travel (maximum of 10 nights). For example, if you are attending the conference from Friday until Sunday morning, FDF would fund three nights (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). FDF will not fund longer conference stays than are justified by your role(s) at the conference.
  • Applicants should provide at least three hotel quotes (including, when possible, the conference hotel) to show that a reasonable rate has been chosen even if the hotel cost has already been paid.
  • The FDF will fund the lowest reasonable rate (no room upgrades) up to the domestic limit of $275/night, excluding taxes and fees. For more expensive cities or for international travel, the choice of a reasonable hotel rate above that limit should be explained in the budget rationale.
  • If the conference hotel rate is unreasonably high for the area, the Committee may request that the applicant explore more economical alternatives.
  • Rate quotes should clearly show the dates of the stay and when they were compared.
  • The hotel rate may either be entered on gnosis as either a daily rate or a flat rate for the total price of the stay. If choosing flat rate option, please: check the “Flat Rate” box; select the number of nights, as the “Food” field will be automatically calculated from the “Number of Nights” field.
  • If it’s cheaper to rent an apartment than to stay in a hotel, the FDF will fund the rental. Please provide documentation showing hotel quotes for the time frame as well as the cost of the apartment or other lodging.
  • Room tax will be funded. Please include this in the hotel nightly rate.
  • Internet access costs of up to $10/night will be funded. Please include this in the hotel nightly rate.


Food is reimbursed at $25 per day, plus 1 additional day for travel. The “Food” field is automatically calculated from the “Number of Nights” field. Receipts are not required for reimbursement. Instead, attach the FDF award letter in the meal receipt area when submitting your Concur expense report. Note: The expense type to use for food is Meal Allotment 716430.


Should be fully explained in your budget rationale.

Travel expenses the FDF will not cover

  • Immersion or training courses are not supported.
  • Personal coaching is not supported.
  • Optional conference events, such as banquets or tours, are not supported.
  • Costs of becoming a member of the organization holding the conference or workshop are not supported unless: a) membership is required to attend, or b) membership and registration fees combined are less than registration fees for non- members. If requesting membership fees, you must provide documentation that one of these exceptions has been met.
  • Upgrades such as extra leg room and priority boarding are not supported.
  • Visa fees are not supported.
  • Travel insurance is not supported.
  • The value of airfare purchased with frequent flyer miles or points cannot be supported or reimbursed.
  • Hotel phone calls, room service, video rentals, and other non-essential services are not supported.
  • Hotel stays for conferences or research within 50 miles of USF are not supported.
  • Gifts or meals for others are not supported.
  • USF-sponsored retreats are not supported.
  • Events for which the faculty member is being compensated (such as paid lectures) are not supported.

Supporting files

Please do not combine all your receipts or quotes into a single PDF file and upload that one file into each field. Actual receipts or price quotes must be uploaded for each field. Multiple files can be uploaded for each line item by clicking “Choose File” and then “Save” for each separate file. Your application should include the following items:

  • Travel application form, which includes your statement of objectives, itemized budget and budget rationale, and explanations of any exceptions in your request.
  • Conference announcement, paper acceptance, or invitation acceptance for conference travel applications.
  • Proof of registration cost or receipt for conference travel applications.
  • Three airfare or train quotes (or map for automobile transportation).
  • Three hotel rate quotes.
  • Local transportation receipts, if applying after travel has taken place.

Research and Equipment Applications

General guidelines

Anything that is not travel-related should be submitted here. Most commonly, this includes requests for student RAs, equipment, and research support services. You can include equipment and student assistance requests in the same application, if they are for the same project. Requests greater than $4000 must be accompanied by a letter of support from someone outside of USF and not involved in the research project.

Research and equipment application form

The research and equipment application form, found in the gnosis FDF application site, includes a 250- to 1000--word statement of objectives along with an itemized budget and budget rationale and with the other information below (depending on whether the application is for research assistance, equipment, or both). Applications with inadequate statements, unjustified budget items, or inflated budgets are likely to be denied.

Research expenses FDF will cover

Hiring student research assistants

  • Applications should include a brief description of the research assistant’s specific duties and the time frame for their completion; a list of and explanation of RA duties and qualifications; and explanation of plans for posting and advertising the job; a sample job posting including the required Equal Opportunity Statement.
  • Information on advertising student jobs can be found here. Although you can encourage particular students to apply, jobs must be publicly posted.
  • If you are specifically requesting a graduate student assistant, you must include a rationale as to why undergraduates would not be suitable.
  • The limit on the number of hours funded is 300 per faculty member per academic year. Any request for an exception must include a clear justification.
  • The pay rate is $15 per hour for undergraduates and $16 per hour for graduates. Please use these amounts in your budget. The FDF gnosis form will automatically add 12% to this amount to account for benefits. Faculty are encouraged to consider work-study students.
  • Faculty supervisors are expected to closely monitor student hours and task completion to assure that research funds are being well used to complete the work for which they were awarded.
  • Applicants must check and report the amount of funding in their FDF research account at the time of the application. To check your account balance:
    • Log into myUSF and click on Employee Self-Service. Then click on the Finance tab.
    • Select Budget Queries.
    • Select Budget Status by Account then click on Create Query.
    • Check the following boxes: Total Available Budget; Year to Date; Encumbrances; Reservations; and Available Balance.
    • Enter the Fund code of your FDF and organization code (211001).
    • View the Results page.


This can include scientific equipment, books, or other supplies.

  • Scientific equipment: Please include a description of the equipment needed and how it will be used, price quotes for items above $50, and an itemized budget with justifications for each budget expense.
  • Books: FDF will support purchases of books for research use that are not accessible through the USF library system. Please include a specific list with the title and author, a description of how these will advance your research, and evidence that they are not otherwise accessible. To bring down costs, please consider purchasing used books whenever possible.

Paying research participants

FDF funds can be used to pay research participants, as long as the research falls within the CAS policy for compensating participants. This policy is in response to increased regulation as a result of the ACA and changes in federal tax law. It is critical that we be able to provide evidence sufficient to satisfy an auditor that allocated funds were spent in service of faculty research.

  • All research involving human subjects, regardless of whether compensation is involved, must be reviewed and approved by USF’s Institutional Review Board before the study begins. For each participant, the PI should obtain a signed informed consent form. This should also indicate payment received. If this has been waived by the IRB, a log of payments including date and amount will suffice. The PI is responsible for retaining these forms for seven years and producing them in the case where Accounting and Business Services needs to show proof of proper payment in an audit.
  • Applications for participant compensation must include a description of the study, the amount of proposed compensation per participant (up to a maximum of $50 per participant) and the total amount requested.
  • Cash is the preferred mechanism for compensation of research subjects. We discourage the use of gift cards, gifts, raffle items, and so on. Payments may be a maximum of $50 per participant.
  • For online studies, researchers should use PayPal (or an equivalent service) to provide compensation to subjects and generate a log that indicates payments made on a particular date to a specific username. Please note that USF does not maintain a corporate or institutional PayPal account; faculty should manage this on their own and seek reimbursement as needed.
  • Reimbursement can be handled by submitting, via Concur, a list containing, for each participant: a name or identifier, the date the payment was received, the amount paid, and the PI’s signature. The Gifts & Cash Incentives Distribution Log Form can be found here.
  • In cases where cash flow is an issue, a cash advance can be used to provide funds in advance. Please contact the CAS Office of Operations for details.

Faculty wishing an exception to these rules may request this by contacting Dennis Miller in Accounting & Business Services (millerd@usfca.edu, x6371).

Other support

Applicants can request FDF funding for other costs associated with the completion of a scholarly project. Applicants should include a quote from the person or entity performing the service. In evaluating these sorts of requests for full or partial funding, the committee will look at whether this is an efficient use of FDF funds and whether there are less expensive ways to achieve the same results. (Please note: Do not pay people for these services yourself and ask for reimbursement; this is not possible. Instead, they should prepare an invoice and receive payment directly from the University.) These are typically supplementary services such as:

  • Indexing or copyediting services
  • Journal publication fees
  • Website design
  • Permissions fees or costs of graphics preparation
  • Translation services
  • Transcription services

Research expenses the FDF will not cover

  • Book purchases for non-research use of that are accessible through the library system are not supported.
  • Computers. Information Technology Services (ITS) handles purchase and disbursement of all computers.
  • Items needed for the offering of a specific course are not supported. The committee feels strongly that the FDF’s purpose is supporting faculty scholarship. Expenses associated with a course should be borne by the department or program offering the course.
  • Student research that is not directly tied to the applicant’s scholarship or creative work is not supported. The FDF cannot be used as a mechanism to support program functioning (such as funding student thesis research that is not conducted as part of a faculty member’s scholarship), for instance, which should instead be supported by the relevant department or program.
  • Payments, stipends, honoraria, or other financial support for faculty member or colleagues are not supported. For example, you cannot use FDF to bring a colleague here to USF to visit, to take them out for dinner, or to compensate them for their time.
  • Promotional expenses such as gifts or payments to reviewers, book advertising, or book tours are not supported.
  • Open access fees are not currently supported by the FDF.

Supporting files

Your application should include the following items:

  • Research/equipment application form, which includes your statement of objectives, research plan and timeline, itemized budget and budget rationale. For RA applications, this also includes a list of and explanation of RA duties and qualifications and the time frame for their completion; and explanation of plans for posting and advertising the job; a sample job posting including the required Equal Opportunity Statement.
  • Price quotes for equipment, books, and other support services

Further Information

Out-of-cycle funding

Due to the increasing number and complexity of applications, requests outside of the regular funding cycles will only be considered on a case-by-case basis in true emergencies, such as an unanticipated research opportunity or deadline, or when it’s clear that the FDF Committee made an error in accounting. Faculty can contact the FDF Committee Co-chairs to request emergency out-of-cycle consideration. The co-chairs cannot overturn a denial by the FDF Committee, however, and applicants are encouraged to revise and resubmit denied applications in the following cycle.

Post-cycle adjustments and spending

According to the CBA, “Failure to use FDF for the stated purpose shall obligate the Association member to reimburse the FDF in full.” If funds are not needed for the purpose for which they are awarded, the faculty member should notify the FDF Co-chairs that the funds can be returned to the FDF. However, within a particular project and with approval from the CAS Office of Operations, fund usage may be adjusted (e.g., less money spent on hotel and more on airfare) as long as this does not lead to exceeding the original award amount.

Faculty are responsible for keeping track of spending from and balances within their FDF research accounts. Overspending may negatively affect future FDF applications.

Processing of reimbursements

  • Concur: To receive reimbursement for travel expenses, you will need to submit an expense report electronically through the Concur system. Be sure to include a copy of your award letter. Faculty are expected to process their own reimbursements; program assistants have been trained on this and can provide assistance, but processing awards for all faculty is outside of the scope of their job. Reimbursement requests should be submitted and within 10 days of the date of the completion of travel. Applicants who fail to do so may be restricted from receiving future FDF funds. If you do not yet have Concur access or know how to use it, you can find instructions here and a tutorial here.
  • International travel: For expenses incurred overseas, please include original receipts (or quotes) in the country’s currency with an expense report completed in US dollars. When converting to US dollars for international travel, the University requires that receipts be converted on the day of the expense or final bill. Please go online to one of the converters and be sure to include the exact date of conversions (and not the current day’s date). Each conversion for each receipt must have a printed copy of the conversion from the online converter submitted with the receipt.
  • A note on meal reimbursements: The expense type to use for food is Meal Allotment 716430, and no receipt is required. Instead, attach the FDF award letter in the meal receipt area.
  • Direct deposit: Reimbursement is typically by direct deposit into your bank account. If you have not set this up, please download a reimbursement direct deposit form and email the competed form to ap@usfca.edu. Note that this form is different from the direct deposit form for salary.
  • Purchasing airline tickets without using a personal credit card is an option for faculty. This is done with the assistance of the CAS Office of Operations, which uses a “ghost P-card” for airline tickets. Please contact Sharon Li (pli7@usfca.edu) or Dan Dao (ddao@usfca.edu) for details.

Current funding limits and caps

In recent years the FDF has experienced a shortfall, and the FDF Committee has continued to work to fund as many complete, strong applications within the FDF mission as possible in an equitable manner. (For further information, see the FDF Report dated April 3, 2018.) In Spring 2018, the Committee took necessary action by reducing the amount of each award; making sure that some portion of the reduced amount was shared by everyone, since this is a communally shared fund; distributing any reductions or limits by rank, since the fund gives priority to work that supports a candidate’s tenure or promotion path; and taking into account the variability in amounts requested, so that a few large requests were not coming at the expense of the whole applicant pool. They took the following actions for the Spring 2018 cycle:

  • Eliminated funding for ground transportation for all travel applications.
  • Reduced funding awards for all research assistant applications by five hours.
  • Set a per-applicant cap for AY 2017-18 of $15,000 for Assistant Professors, $12,000 for Associate Professors, and $9,000 for Full Professors.
  • Limited Full Professors to two applications, guided by their own prioritization.
  • Eliminated funding for the food per diem for Associate and Full Professors.

These or similar limits and caps may need to continue into future cycles, depending on the amount of available funds and the amount of funding requests.

Questions and feedback

The Faculty Development Committee encourages questions and comments regarding policies and procedures. Please feel free to contact the co-chairs of the committee, Associate Deans, or faculty representatives. Contact information is provided on the FDF web page.

For questions about Concur, checking account balances, reimbursements, and other financial issues, please contact the CAS Office of Operations.

From the Collective Bargaining Agreement

ARTICLE 34. Faculty Development Fund and Librarian Development Fund

34.1 All Association members may apply and shall be considered for Faculty Development Funds (FDF)/Librarian Development Funds (LDF). Individuals applying for FDF/LDF shall ordinarily outline plans and use of such funds with their Dean in their Academic Career Prospectus (ACP)/Librarian Career Prospectus (LCP).

34.2 A joint college, school or library committee shall be appointed for the purpose of distributing FDF/LDF. The Dean and the Association member may each appoint up to five individuals to serve a three-year term. Awards shall be decided by mutual agreement between parties, and not by a simple majority vote.

34.3 Association members shall formally apply to the committee for FDF/LDF. The application shall include: (i) a signed statement of intent which sets forth the specific objectives and goals to be accomplished through the use of such funds and (ii) the phrase, “Failure to use FDF/LDF for the stated purpose shall obligate the Association member to reimburse the FDF/LDF in full.” FDF/LDF may not be awarded without a signed statement of intent.

34.4 Funds shall be divided between colleges, schools and library based on the number of Association members in each.

34.5 FDF/LDF shall be awarded pursuant to the following criteria listed in order of priority:
(A) for research endeavors which may support a candidate’s request for consideration for promotion or tenure;
(B) to faculty or librarians who wish to enhance professional effectiveness. Awards shall be based on academic merits alone. Ordinarily, preference for FDF/LDF in each college or library for this criterion shall be junior faculty/librarians.

34.6 Upon written request by the Dean or the Association representative on the committee, any Association member who received FDF/LDF funds, shall account in full for the manner in which these funds were used, including specific documentation showing the funds were used for the purposes stated in the application and statement of intent.

34.7 Should a recipient of FDF/LDF funds fail to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the committee that such funds were spent for the stated purposes or that the proposed activity was substantially completed, the recipient shall repay the FDF/LDF all funds in question. No further funds may be awarded to anyone who fails to document the use of FDF/LDF for the duration of this Agreement.

34.8 An Association member shall submit any dispute concerning this Article in writing to the President of the Association or designee and the Provost or designee for final resolution within ten days of the time the dispute arose. If the dispute is not submitted in writing and within ten (10) days, the University or the Association shall have no obligation to respond, and the decision of the committee shall be final.

34.9 The parties shall not defend individuals who use funds for other than the stated purposes.

34.10 In academic year 2016-2017, the funds provided by the University for distribution shall be $1,573,262.00.

34.11 In subsequent academic years, the University shall divide the 2016-2017 distribution by the number of 2016-2017 Association faculty and librarian lines. The University shall increase the dividend by the Consumer Price Index and then multiply it by the number of the subsequent year’s Association faculty and librarians. The University shall place the resulting amount in the fund.

34.12 Unused funds at the end of the academic year shall be reallocated to the main FDF pool for reallocation the following academic year per the formula in Article 34.4.

34.13 Unused funds in the academic year 2016-2017, shall be divided equally and reallocated in three (3) equal installments (2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20.

34.14 The provision of faculty development funds shall not be extended automatically and shall be subject to reopener negotiations.