Fall 2011 Results

To:                        St. Lawrence Community Members
From:                   Innovation Grants Committee
Date:                    December 8, 2011
Subject:               Recommendations for Funding           
Warm thanks to everyone who participated in the Innovation Grants program.  The Committee feels inspired by the proposals we reviewed, which reflect commitment of the University community to improving the quality of life on campus and of the University’s connection to the regional community. Many proposals also reflected commitment to environmental sustainability and to diversity.

The Innovation Grants project received 17 applications from 43 people. The Committee (Bill DeCoteau, Erin McCarthy, Noah Fitch ’14, Nicole Campbell ’13, Alison Almasian, Elaine White, and Lisa Cania) met four times to assess the proposals, an assessment that included a written evaluation rubric completed by each committee member for each proposal, discussion of our results, vetting of proposals with relevant Senior Staff or department leaders, and contacting some of the proposal writers if we had any questions. 

We hope to announce very soon the schedule for the second round of funding proposals, planned for the spring semester.   With sincere thanks to all who submitted a proposal and with awe for the great ideas among you, we announce these successful proposals:

Campus Connections:  This grant will support new conversational opportunities for administrative staff in a variety of venues/formats, ranging from meetings where breakfast or lunch is provided, large-group brown bag luncheons where we’d provide drinks/desserts, to smaller focus groups meeting for coffee at the Bookstore. We envision inviting newer faculty members to some of these monthly conversations as well, focusing on work and non-work related topics:  e.g. gathering the two groups for a discussion on common issues encountered when buying a home in the North Country or to work on revising the “SLU Survival Guide.”  Some conversations might try to introduce or build connections across departments or divisions, so staff and faculty alike have a greater appreciation for and understanding of each other’s roles on campus.  Other meetings will focus on administrative staff only. We also propose creating a survey for administrative staff, as yet another opportunity for sharing ideas. 
Project leaders: Lorie McKenzie, Matha Thornton, Christine Zimmerman

Campus Recycling Study: This study will analyze St. Lawrence University’s recycling program and research ways to improve it. Two St. Lawrence University students would apply to conduct research under the guidance of Marcus Sherburne, of Facilities Operations. The research will include a study on the current recycling system (current recycling points, how it functions, and the recycling behaviors of students), as well as a study of recycling programs at peer institutions. Other research will include cost-effectiveness of recycling programs and feasibility of implementation on campus.
Project Leaders:  Katherine Powers ’14, Marcus Sherburne

Community Nordic Skate Trail: Skate skiing is a popular, unique alternative to classical cross country skiing.  In order to offer this activity to a wide range of backgrounds, it would be beneficial to groom a skate skiing loop around the perimeter of the fields behind Augsbury. This space, though currently unused all winter, is illuminated even in the darker months.  Skate skiing on these potential trails would no longer require a trip to Higley Flow State Park, which is both taxing on the environment and our wallets.  Van trips and carbon emissions would be greatly reduced.   The Outdoor Program could organize tutorials for SLU students and faculty, and there is potential for including skiing in fitness classes.  The Nordic Ski Team could help school programs in the local community develop a passion for winter recreation.  All varieties of skiers could enjoy the track throughout the day, and the lit fields would open up skiing after dark.  These trails would require no additional alterations to the existing fields and trails, while still allowing greater access to healthy, fun, and local ski terrain. 
Project Leaders: Bob Washo, Leah Hart ’12, Adam Terko ’12

Compost Containers: There are a wide variety of sustainable initiatives taking place in order to bring substantial changes to our campus, yet we feel optimizing the sustainable features already present here is important.  The Senior Townhouses currently have community compost tumblers that are under-utilized.  The townhouses lack transition scrap containers to fill with compost material before bringing it out to the larger composter.  Compost scraps need to be kept in an airtight container, so having an accessory like this allows for proper storage and easy disposal of scraps.  Supplying each townhouse with one of these 1-gallon containers would supplement an initiative that has already been started.
Project Leaders: Zach French ’14, Annie Znamierowski ’12, Louise Gava

Islamic Prayer Room:  St. Lawrence University has a growing number of Muslim students. This project, proposed by students, creates a prayer space where in which Muslim students can worship their faith, in accordance with Islamic guidelines for prayer.  The room would be available at all times enabling Muslim students to perform the five obligatory prayers throughout the day and night, in addition to the other prayers associated with the holy month of Ramadan. This space would create an environment that would promote spiritual well-being for Muslim students and a more prominent sense of community amongst them. Also, this room would encourage religious understanding about the Islamic faith for the entire St. Lawrence community, simultaneously combating feelings of mistrust, instances of prejudice, and perpetuation of negative stereotypes about Islam.  This room could also be used to facilitate and host discussions. A wide range of courses in fields like Peace, Religious, and Linguistic studies could also utilize the room to put relevant coursework into context. Most importantly however, this room would provide a space for Muslim students seeking solace within the confines of their religion.
Project Leaders:  Breanna Beaumont ’12, Safia Quadri ’13, Fatima Sall ’13

Mediation Program:  A joint effort of Peace Studies, the Chaplain’s Office, and Student Life.  The plan of the program is to (1) train students in peer mediation, (2) hire a student Mediation Intern to assist with administration of the program (letting other students know about the program, fielding inquiries, helping schedule actual mediations, keeping statistics, and managing the other necessary paperwork), and (3) train more faculty and staff to be able to take cases involving faculty and staff.  We have seventeen students already trained.  The Mediation Intern will be selected from that group.  We would like to train another group of 15 students in the spring through a Mediation course that will incorporate an actual 4-day, 36-hour training session over spring break, to be led by New York State Certified Mediation Trainer Duke Fisher.  We plan to open five seats for faculty and staff as well. 
Project Leaders:  Laura Rediehs, Kathleen Buckley, Matha Thornton

New Faculty Peer Mentoring: We have been using a traditional mentor program, pairing an experienced faculty member with a new faculty member in their first year, along with “Follow Up Monday” workshops aimed exclusively at new faculty. We can do more to assist non-tenured faculty.  The grant will allow organization of a group of all tenure-track faculty who have worked at SLU for one to three years (a group of 11 faculty members currently) to be part of a peer mentoring network.  This peer group would meet for monthly lunches at which there would be an announced discussion topic, addressing varying aspects of a young faculty member’s academic career – teaching, scholarship, service, or work-life balance. Some examples of possible topics include: teaching “touchy” subjects; deciphering teaching evaluations; finding time for scholarly work; negotiating service commitments and how to say no; tenure process Q&A; writing meaningful annual reports; seeking grant funding; or prioritizing in your academic and family/personal life. In peer-mentoring, members of the group can offer moral support and advice to one another (e.g. those with more experience helping the newest members). In addition, for many of these topics, there would be invited guests brought in to help answer questions, guide the discussion and offer advice.
Project Leader: Alison Del Rossi

Social Science Research Center:  The purpose of this request is to leverage the Innovation Grant funding with an externally funded research project to develop a social science research center. The Center will seek to help students develop an understanding of the practice of social science by engaging them in research projects that aim to benefit the community, region and state. It will have three goals. 1) Enhance student/faculty interdisciplinary research collaborations. 2) Support faculty research and other campus administration with data collection and analysis capacity. 3) Provide North Country community organizations reasonably priced technical assistance with projects like program evaluation, community surveys, as well as social and economic impact analyses. The center’s creation would represent a highly distinctive feature of the University, setting it apart from other liberal arts colleges. Few have a similar center focused primarily on applied social science research. The center will partner with other units across campus like the Center for Civic Engagement, the Division of Community and Employee Relations, the Office of Institutional Research, the Quantitative Resource Center and the Elberty Geospatial Laboratory to accomplish the goals and enhance the missions of each.
Project Leaders:  Brian Chezum, Erik Backlund, Leah Rohlfsen

Stewardship of the Japanese Garden:  Creation of the North Country Japanese Garden was a multi-year,
grant-funded project that transformed a neglected courtyard in Sykes into a beautiful, contemplative
space for the enjoyment of the campus and greater community. The Japanese garden is a unique resource whose potential has not yet been fully realized to enhance the educational mission, community relations and general ambiance of St. Lawrence University. We seek support for reaching the garden's full potential by creating a community stewardship program for the Japanese garden, thus facilitating greater awareness and use of this resource as well as ensuring its maintenance and upkeep (carried out by volunteers) well into the future. Implementation of this program will include organizing a student club, developing a new course, creating an internship for a garden docent, and organizing events and displays in the garden.
Project Leaders:  Mark MacWilliams and Cathy Shrady