Big Changes Ahead: UIF Program Updates

The UIF team is excited to share some important changes to our program that we believe will result in even greater impact on your campus.


University Innovation Fellows and their faculty champions know just how often we emphasize prototyping, gaining feedback, and continually improving. Just as we ask Fellows to do this as they create activities, classes, spaces and communities at their schools, we do the same with our program.

We are thrilled to introduce a new iteration of our program cycle! After talking with so many of you, we designed a new process that streamlines and strengthens every Fellow’s potential to make impact.

Starting this year, we will offer only one application and online training cycle each year, after which Fellows will have to demonstrate action and learning in order to receive an invitation to the University Innovation Fellows Meetup. Below are the details.

One application and training cycle each year

Beginning with the next cohort of Fellows, we will hold only one application and training cycle each year. This year, applications will be due on May 21, 2018; interviews will take place in June; and training will be held September 4 – October 18, 2018. By holding only one application and training cycle each year (rather than two), our team will be able to focus on support for Fellows immediately after training and beyond.

One Silicon Valley Meetup and one Eastern Hemisphere Meetup each year

We will continue to hold our Silicon Valley Meetup once per year, in mid-March. For those of you who attended our November 2017 Meetup, you’ll remember that this was a special event to celebrate our program’s 5-year anniversary. Therefore we will not hold a Silicon Valley Meetup in November 2018.

Additionally, we will replicate the Silicon Valley Meetup experience in the Eastern Hemisphere. As a prototype, in May 2018, we are holding a Meetup in India for our growing population of Fellows in the Eastern Hemisphere. Stay tuned for details!

Impact requirement to attend the Meetup

In order to attend the University Innovation Fellows Meetup, Fellows will be required to demonstrate action and learning, or measurable progress with their projects. For the Fall 2018 cohort of Fellows, we will ask them to share an update on this progress about two months after they complete training — by December 20, 2018. Fellows who are able to demonstrate measurable traction on their projects will receive an invitation to attend the University Innovation Fellows Meetup by January 15, 2019. Those who achieve traction after this date will be invited to the Meetup in 2020.

What do we mean by impact? Change is hard, and it takes a lot of tenacity, grit, work and time. There are different levels of measurable impact: the numbers of attendees, events, and activities; the immediate effect on stakeholders who have a positive and enjoyable experience attending an activity Fellows organize; and the lasting impact in the mindsets and skillsets of faculty and students who learn something new during those activities. Even deeper impact happens when those in charge of systems and programs rethink their assumptions and implement changes. Every school and UIF project is different, and therefore requires different ways to understand and measure impact. For more information on this, please read this report by our colleagues Bev and Etienne Wenger-Trayner.

The ultimate goal of showing impact before attending the Meetup is for Fellows to take quick action and learn from the successes, failures, and everything in between. It takes small steps to make a difference, and we’re here to help you understand those steps.

This new process will ensure a strong return on investment for Fellows, faculty, stakeholders and for the UIF team. The UIF team will be able to focus more energy into providing support throughout the year and increasing our interactions with Fellows. As a result, we will all experience a higher quality program and thrive in stronger impact together.

Looking ahead

We are excited to design this new support experience for Fellows! We will share more details in the future about the ways in which we will help Fellows experiment, test and meet their goals.

As we celebrated our program’s 5-year anniversary in Fall 2017, our team had an opportunity to look back and review how much our program has changed since the beginning. We’ve continued to take in your feedback, to address your needs, and to take on new opportunities. There is always more work to do, and we look forward to continuing the journey with you as we work together to change higher education.

Here’s to the next 5 years!

The UIF team

(Leticia, Humera, Katie, Laurie and Ghanashyam)

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