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Foreword
 
Introduction
 
Part I:
 
    Introduction
 
    Respondents
 
    Chapter One:
    The Experience
    of the Grant
    Recipients
 
    Chapter Two:
    The Insider
    Perspective
 
Part II:
 
    Positioning FIPSE
 
    Breadth
    and Inclusiveness
 
    FIPSE Personnel
 
    Soliciting
    Proposals
 
    Project
    Directors
    Meetings
 
    Project
    Ownership
 
    Change Agents
    and Change
    Networks
 
    Risk Taking
 
    The FIPSE
    Environment
 
    Conclusion
 
About the Authors
 
The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education
 

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Page 11 of 18

PROJECT DIRECTORS MEETINGS


Bringing all project directors together for an annual two- to three-day meeting was the single FIPSE decision that had the most impact on practitioners. Sponsoring such a meeting was not a usual practice among government grant-making agencies, and FIPSE had no money in its budget to accomplish it. But a way was found: when the paperwork was completed on each grant, an amount was added to the project budget to permit grantees to attend an annual project directors meeting. This practice, begun in the first year, has continued ever since.

Enabling FIPSE staff to meet with directors early in the life of their projects was reason enough to hold the meeting. By meeting individually and in groups, program officers were able to establish the kinds of personal connections that might have taken years to achieve via phone and mail interactions. Once made, these contacts greatly enhanced the effectiveness of subsequent long-distance and in-person communication.

The FIPSE project directors meeting is an excellent example of how the whole can truly become greater than the sum of its parts. As diverse as these projects were, the one characteristic that all project directors shared was that they were innovators and change agents-leaders who had the capacity and the commitment to bring about change. By bringing together these like-minded people for several days, FIPSE created a stew of intellectual and emotional energy that far surpassed anyone's expectations. Within the first few years, project directors saw the value of networking with each other, and the meetings took on a life of their own. With staff encouragement, the directors were soon proposing and producing the content of the meetings, building networks of innovative programs, revising their own projects, and creating new initiatives to submit to other federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Education, and the National Humanities Council.

FIPSE program officers couldn't help but learn from these intensive, interactive experiences. This new knowledge in turn enriched the agency, helping it to stay in touch with the leading edge of innovation in postsecondary education.

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