Office of the Vice President for Research

Thematic Units of Excellence (TUNE) Program

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is pleased to announce a request for applications for the new FY23-FY27 Thematic Units of Excellence program.

Colorado State University continues to foster a culture of excellence and nurture success of research and scholarship community members, build excellence, embrace purposeful innovation, and translate innovation into impact. Our ability to reach aspirational goals will depend on identifying and investing in areas of institutional excellence with a process to select, develop, and support strategic thematic programs of high potential impact. To meet these ambitious objectives, the OVPR recently enlisted a task force comprised of faculty and administrators to provide recommendations for a novel, transformative institutional program, building from the underpinnings of the sunsetting Programs of Research & Scholarly Excellence (PRSE). The task force recommended a program that would be more focused thematically, with more resources dedicated to thematic areas of documented excellence. They also suggested fewer investments that could be rotated over time to provide a continual examination across our institution of what we consider to be excellence in research and scholarly programs.

The new “Thematic Units of Excellence (TUNE)” designation has emerged from that effort. The TUNE program will create a new, more robust institutional process to nurture and sustain impactful programs of research, scholarship, and artistry, by recognizing already-achieved excellence with demonstrable promise in existing and emerging strategic areas that have demonstrated excellence. The TUNE program will be one of a cohort of programs across our campus with varied intent and funding levels, from seed funds in colleges, departments, schools, centers or institutes to funds that support emerging new areas of research or scholarly interests.

Brief Program Description:

The TUNE designation program will invest in thematic excellence through a process that encourages ideas and collaborations with local, regional, national, and international impact, while reflecting institutional priorities and strengths. This process is designed to elicit broad representation and participation from the campus community (including faculty and research scientists/scholars) and across all mission areas of our land-grant foundation, with emphasis on research and scholarship activities. The basis for TUNEs is an established track record of nationally and internationally recognized excellence. TUNE applications may include both emerging and existing themes that are poised for significant impacts.

Designated TUNEs should demonstrate significant engagement across campus, impacts already made that demonstrate engagement and enthusiasm from internal and external communities (including industry, government, or philanthropic sponsors), and well-developed plans for how the investments and impacts made with the institutional support will be realized and leveraged. As such, each designated TUNE is expected to host a national or international conference or workshop on campus during the duration of the designation to communicate success and promote awareness of activities broadly both internally and externally.

The TUNE program selection and designation at Colorado State University will set a high standard for qualification, therefore, only a limited number of programs will be selected. To ensure there are sufficient resources to support new TUNEs that emerge, the OVPR will limit the number of newly designated TUNEs to a maximum of 3 per cycle, with a new call for TUNE applications issued every 2-4 years, depending on the progress of existing TUNES. Each TUNE designation is limited to a maximum 4-year funding duration.

This program will provide funding support to each designated TUNE at a maximum of $400K – $800K total from the OVPR over the duration of the program. Additional non-OVPR support, including leveraged or cost-shared support (cash or in-kind) from relevant departments, colleges, and other internal or external sources is strongly encouraged.

Additional Information:

See the RFA announcement or the opportunity page within InfoReady Review  for additional information regarding specific required proposal content, eligibility, funding request details, program expectations, and evaluation criteria.

Submission Process:

Applications are due by 5:00 pm MT on the submission deadline date (January 31, 2023) and must be submitted through the CSU InfoReady Review system ( The system will not accept applications after 5:00 pm.


October 6, 2022RFA announcement released
October 31, 2022Open Forum: 1:30-2:30pm
November 17,2022Open Forum: 9:00-10:00am
January 31, 2023*Deadline for receipt of application package
March 1, 2023Semi-finalists notified
On or about March 20, 2023*Semi-finalist open presentation session, TBD
On or about April 3, 2023Awardees notified
May 1, 2023Program state date


For questions and further discussion, please contact Chandra Venkatachalam or Dinaida Egan in the Office of the Vice President for Research