Program Guidelines

Program Purpose

The primary purpose of the ISS Faculty Fellows program is to nurture the careers of Cornell University’s most promising junior faculty members in the social sciences. The program is designed to support assistant professors in the 2-3 years just prior to tenure review, and associate professors just prior to the review for promotion to full professor. The program is also designed to create an environment of intellectual exchange and an appreciation for interdisciplinary scholarship.

Program Description

The ISS Faculty Fellows Program occurs every few years. The next search will be launched Fall 2017 for the fellows cohort that will be in residence during 2018/2019.

The ISS Faculty Fellows program is a one-semester, in-residence appointment at the ISS that includes an ISS office and optional Dell desktop computer. Each fellow is expected to spend the majority of his or her time at the ISS working on a chosen research project during their residency semester. Thus, fellows are expected to be granted one-half year of teaching release by their Deans and chairs to coincide with the semester of primary ISS residency (either Fall 2018 or Spring 2019). Ideally, to support the purpose of the fellowship, fellows will teach half their normal course load over the course of the year of their fellowship (2018/2019) and not teach during their semester of primary residency. Each fellow is also excused from “heavy” administrative responsibilities for the semester of primary residency.  Fellows may request an ISS office for the whole year and, in the semester when they are teaching, split time across their departmental and ISS offices; we honor these requests as space allows.

Fellows attend weekly or bi-monthly lunches at which they discuss each other’s research, professional development issues, and current topics and new directions in the social sciences.

The ISS provides each fellow with a research grant of $10,000 to be used for expenditures directly related to his or her research and scholarly activities proposed in their application. Each fellow’s department receives $5,000 to partially offset course reductions.

The Faculty Fellows Program, unlike ISS Collaborative Projects, does not expect that fellows will be working on a similar topic. In this regard, it is modeled after the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford), the Russell Sage Foundation Fellows Program, and the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study.

The Nomination Process

Deans are asked to nominate their most promising assistant professors in the social sciences who are within 2-3 years of tenure review, and/or associate professors in the social sciences who are within 2-3 years of being reviewed for appointment to full professor. The nomination files must be submitted by the Deans, although we do suggest that they consult with department chairs to identify viable candidates and work with chairs and candidates to create the nomination files. Candidates may also speak to their own chairs to request to be nominated. The ISS does not limit the number of nominations a College submits.

The process and internal College timelines for considering faculty for nomination and compiling nomination files varies by College. As a result, it is a best practice for chairs to be in touch with their Dean or appropriate Associate Dean early in the search process.

Complete nomination files should be emailed to Anneliese Truame ( by the deadline for that program’s search. We prefer to receive one pdf file containing all pieces, but will accept individual pdf or MSWord files.

The completed nomination file itself is composed of several parts: a Dean’s cover letter, a letter of recommendation by the chair or Dean depending on the College’s preferred practice, and the nominee’s research proposal, budget, and CV.

  • Dean’ cover letter/email: One letter may be sent to affirm the nomination of the whole group of candidates from a College, or separate letters may be submitted for each candidate, as each Dean prefers. In either case, this cover letter should indicate the Dean’s support for the nomination(s) from the College and support for the terms of the fellowship as indicated on the ISS website and in the letter of recommendation.
  • Letter of recommendation: The recommendation letter is written by the chair or Dean depending on the preferred process of the college. It should indicate the support of the chair and department if written by the Dean.
    • The letter should describe how the candidate meets the following selection criteria: (1) quality of scholarly publications; (2) level of productivity; (3) creativity of the research agenda; (4) current impact of the work; and (5) the potential for future significant contributions to the field. Nomination letters should also explain how this opportunity will help the nominee’s chances to achieve tenure or full professorship, in what way(s) the nominee stands out compared to his or her peers, and how the nominee contributes to the intellectual environment at Cornell.
    • The letter should also describe the nominee’s normal teaching load, the extent to which they will be excused from teaching by the department, and which semester the candidate is requesting as their primary semester. The letter also needs to confirm that the faculty member is able to be in residence at the ISS during the requested residency semester and can take course and administrative release during that time according to the department.
  • Research proposal: The nominated faculty member prepares a short research proposal (no more than 5 double-spaced pages) indicating what s/he would work on, and a budget describing how the $10,000 will be spent, if granted the ISS fellowship. A current vita should also be included. These pieces are usually sent to the chair, who writes the letter of recommendation and sends all of these materials on to the Dean to prepare the cover letter.

The Selection Process

Roughly 10 fellows will be selected for the program.  The applications will be reviewed by the Director of the ISS and the ISS Advisory Committee. Selection will be based on the following criteria:  quality of scholarly publications; level of productivity; creativity and intellectual merit of the applicant’s work; current impact of the work; and the potential for future significant contribution to the field. The selection process will also take into account the diversity, on many dimensions, of the Fellows cohort.