About

Society’s grand challenges cross the boundaries between academic disciplines. Our faculty clusters program positions NC State to lead the search for solutions.

Interdisciplinary Innovation

In 2011, we launched the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program (CFEP) to bring together the brightest minds in a range of academic disciplines and give them the support to tackle global issues.

Our faculty clusters will add more than 75 new faculty members in 20 select fields to enhance the breadth and depth of our solution-driven research and innovation. They build on our historic strengths in the sciences, engineering, math, design, textiles, humanities and social sciences, and education. And they take those strengths in bold new directions.

Many universities have attempted to incorporate faculty clusters into their campus culture — but few have succeeded. I’m proud of NC State’s leadership in this area.

Chancellor Randy Woodson

The clusters program is essential to accomplishing the goals of our strategic plan: supporting student success by exposing them to an innovative, interdisciplinary culture; enhancing scholarship and research through investments in faculty and infrastructure; and boosting interdisciplinary research to address society’s grand challenges.

A Cross-Disciplinary Culture

The Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program is part of a deeply ingrained culture of interdisciplinary exploration at NC State. The first collection of 12 faculty clusters emerged from dozens of proposals submitted by our faculty.

Many of the resulting clusters cemented longstanding collaborations. Our Innovation + Design cluster, for instance, grew from the Product Innovation Lab, a graduate course that has brought together management and engineering students and faculty since the late 1990s. All of the original clusters, as well as eight clusters announced in 2015, built on existing strengths and had the potential to establish NC State as a national leader in the field, drawing support from research funders and attracting a diverse array of new potential new faculty members.

We’ve made a significant investment in the clusters program, hiring more than 60 new faculty members and creating an infrastructure to help them succeed. That investment is paying dividends. Projects launched by cluster faculty have drawn millions of dollars in external research funding. The CFEP spurs development of new graduate academic programs, attracts top faculty and graduate students from around the world, generates partnerships with government and industry, and fosters a spirit of collaboration across the university’s 10 colleges.

60+ New Faculty

Our newest cluster hires, spanning all 10 colleges, have drawn millions of dollars in external research funding.

Learn more about our faculty clusters.

A Purposeful Approach

The CFEP program represents a collaborative approach to solving societal challenges. To ensure its success, we’ve been deliberate about finding the right faculty and building an infrastructure that bolsters their efforts.

Instead of hiring people at the department level and then seeing how those new faculty members could fit into university centers or institutes — the units on campus that have traditionally spearheaded cross-disciplinary efforts — we first identified gaps in broad research areas and then assessed how potential new hires could fit in.

We also updated our tenure and promotion processes to reward and incentivize interdisciplinary work. And we’ve created spaces where researchers from different departments and colleges can work together. Those spaces serve faculty within and outside the clusters, supporting an interdisciplinary culture that finds its best expression in the faculty clusters program but also imbues everything we do.