||BREADTH AND INCLUSIVENESS
An important feature of FIPSE that influenced many of its early decisions and actions was its willingness to embrace both the broadest possible view of postsecondary education and a very wide array of the multiple strategies that could be used to improve it. Congress had set the first signposts along this road by selecting the term "postsecondary education" instead of "higher education" in the authorizing legislation, and by listing broad rather than detailed goals for improving postsecondary education. FIPSE not only interpreted these signposts in the broadest possible way, but also used the legislative phrase "other public and private education institutions and agencies" to include institutions that had only an indirect or secondary relationship to education.
Inclusiveness and breadth permeated FIPSE's decisions and work. In addition to including the widest range of institutions, FIPSE created other operational features that gave real substance to this notion of inclusiveness:
FIPSE's decisions to be inclusive in so many aspects of its work, to embrace breadth of purpose, and to welcome diverse reviewers enhanced its ability to be responsive to the field.
- FIPSE decided that since many types of educational institutions were permitted to apply for funding, colleges and universities that were not accredited could apply as well. This meant that organizations quite different from the traditional colleges and universities could and did apply.
- FIPSE made it clear that submission of applications need not be limited to tenured or senior personnel within an institution. At the time, most other governmental funding agencies insisted upon tenured faculty or senior personnel as applicants or project directors. For FIPSE this would have excluded many excellent proposals. Often, it is the less established members of an institution who are seeking change and improvement.
- In selecting reviewers of proposals, FIPSE noted the lack of reviewers who were either untenured, living west of the Mississippi, women, or minorities. This was understandable (it was far more difficult for such people to take time off and make the trip to Washington, D.C.) but not acceptable. To rectify this, FIPSE took its applications to the field. The reviewing process was geographically distributed with several temporary reviewing stations set up nationwide. This greatly changed and diversified the mix of reviewers.
- The legislation identified a broad range of purposes for which grants and contracts could be awarded. FIPSE could have selected some of these and left others for future years. Instead, it retained all of these broad purposes, and in its guidelines it reflected on what these might mean in practice. Even this approach was not meant to limit the breadth of proposals, and in the event anyone should take it that way, the guidelines stated, "It should be understood that the Fund welcomes bold and imaginative proposals, related to the reform, innovation, and improvement of postsecondary education, which fit no preconceived categories of grant-making activity."