Professional Development Fund + Graduate Research Assistantships


The Professional Development Fund was established with a Mellon Foundation Grant, with the goal of fostering excellence in the fields of art and design, and the advancement of knowledge in related fields. The fund also provides financial support for the extraordinary costs of studio work, for research projects that could not be done otherwise, for the development of publications, and other work in progress undertaken by faculty, museum curators, and professional librarians. The fund has awarded more than $2,000,000 since its inception in 1982.

Funded project proposals have included travel for research, assistance in mounting an exhibition, the production or reproduction of art and design, purchase of picture rights for a publication, and course load reduction of one teaching unit for full-time faculty. Faculty may also apply for a graduate research assistant through this fund. Awards average $2,500.

The Professional Development Fund Committee calls for proposals twice a year: in the Fall for projects to be undertaken between January 1 and June 30 and in the Spring for projects to be undertaken between July 1 and December 31.

Professional librarians may apply for summer release time in either application cycle.

Applications are submitted via application websites and must include a curriculum vita, supporting materials, and a detailed budget.


• Coherent and detailed budget
• Feasibility of proposal
• Clarity of the proposal as expressed in the written statement and supporting materials
• Proposal should describe either a specific outcome to be achieved by the project, or how this component of the project will concretely contribute to the achievement of a long-term project.
• Evidence of commitment to your discipline or field of research, and how the project will contribute to your creative, intellectual or artistic development

NOTE: The Committee historically has deferred requests for computer education for funding via the Education in New Technologies Fund. Requests for curriculum related research are referred to the department head and/or dean for department or division funding; innovative courses are funded via the Academic Enrichment and Kyobo funds. The Conference and Presentation Fund supports the travel costs related to faculty presentations at professional conferences and other venues.

Janine Connelly in Academic Affairs oversees the spending of grant funds; grants are not distributed as cash awards to faculty and as such are taxable by the IRS. Non-allowable expenses include: artist fees to be paid to the applicant, per diem/food costs during travel, first class travel or luxury accommodations, ordinary operating costs such as rent, utilities insurance for studios, or capital expenses. Applicants are recommended to submit well-researched budgets. All past recipients of grants must have submitted written reports for previous grants received to be eligible to apply for a new grant.

Requests for release time must be signed by the department head and dean and be made with enough lead time to find a replacement faculty member.

The Professional Development Fund Committee is chaired by the Provost and made up of three full-time faculty members elected by the Faculty Meeting and additional members appointed by the Provost. The appointed members may include a part-time faculty member, librarian, and/or curator. Members of the Committee may not write recommendations for applicants nor may they apply for a grant during their term as a Committee member. The proceedings of the Committee meetings are confidential.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: All full-time faculty members, museum curators and librarians; all part-time faculty who have completed two years of service. Faculty members are eligible to receive a maximum of one award each academic year.


Research Assistants are graduate students engaged in faculty-guided research.

Research Assistantships include compensation for the student and are meaningful educational and research experiences appropriate for graduate level work.

Research Assistantships are not work-for-hire.

Full-time RISD faculty and part-time RISD faculty with two years of service can apply for research project support in the form of Graduate Research Assistantships. Note: Prior recipients of Graduate Studies Funded Research Assistantships must have submitted a final report to be eligible to apply again.

RELEASE TIME NOTE: Full-time Faculty or Librarians who are requesting release time must also fill out a release time application and pass it to their Department Head (or Dean of Libraries), who will then sign and forward the application to their Divisional Dean, who will in turn forward the application to Academic Affairs. The completed and signed application for release time must reach Academic Affairs by the closing date of the grant for your application to be considered complete. The form can be downloaded by clicking on the link in the right hand bar.

APPLICATIONS REVIEWED BY: Professional Development Fund Committee

DEADLINE: biannual, first Wednesday of November; first Wednesday of April.

Patricia Barbeito
Interim Dean of Faculty

To apply:

Please use the Academic Affairs grant portal, which can be found here:

Note: Faculty members no longer have to submit a Notification to Submit an Application and may apply directly using the link above.


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