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Academic Department Engagement Funds

Questions and Answers

Can the funds be used to pay for food?

Yes: The department’s efforts to increase engagement are official university business and are covered in the Hospitality Expense Policies and Procedures, which say that “Hospitality expenses must be directly related to, or associated with, the active conduct of official university business.” The purpose of the food must meet the criteria of increasing student engagement.

Can the funds be used to pay for field trips or student travel?

Yes, with limitations: Funds can be paid directly to a museum, conference, bus company, etc.  Presumably funding would not be sufficient for all students with majors in the department, so there must be some application and selection process that is open to all.  Payment should not go directly to students, even as a reimbursement.

Can the funds be used to purchase bulletin boards or other communication resources?

Yes: As long as they are department managed to increase engagement and announce engagement opportunities.

Can the funds be used to pay for faculty meals at a student-centered event?

Yes: But it should be clear that the primary benefits of the activity are for the students.

Can the funds be used for club activities?

No: The host / sponsor must be the department with the goal of increasing student engagement.  This does not preclude involvement of club members or officers, who can certainly help design and run activities, but invitations to participate should come from the department to all students with majors in the department.

Can the funds be used to pay for refreshments at job seminars given by finalists of faculty searches?

No: Even though students may attend these activities and benefit, it is not the primary purpose of the event to increase engagement of students with the department.

Can the funds be used for scholarships, gifts or prizes?

Not recommended: Scholarships and gifts are not allowed.  Small give-away items (e.g. pens) available to all students attending an event designed to increase engagement might be possible.  However, the appearance of unwise use of state funds, even if allowed, makes this an area of expense that would be better avoided.

Can the funds be used to pay for equipment or supplies that would be used by students in their major classes?

Not recommended: This may improve the educational experience of the students but is unlikely to increase the engagement of students with the department.

Do the funds roll-over to the next year if they are not used?

Yes, with limitations: Funds should be used during the academic year in which they were budgeted. Unused funds may carryforward for projects in progress but balances without activity may be reverted to the pool of funds for Student Engagement in Academic Departments for future distribution.

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