Spring 2014 Innovation Grants

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.

The successful grants listed below all have the potential to offer transformative, positive change to campus life.  The committee members (Amy Hauber, Noah Fitch’14, Elaine White, Jeremy Freeman, and Lisa Cania) loved the variety of ideas in all proposals, and chose these four to have the optimum effect on campus.  We also were thrilled with the student-faculty and student-staff partnerships.

Appreciating Campus: Addressing Vandalism:  To improve our community and start more conversations about respect, integrity, community, and what it means to be a Laurentian living in our residence halls, this proposal will offer: (1) a “Coffee with our Cleaners” event to be hosted in residence halls each semester, (2) a “Residence Hall Appreciation Week” program to recognize the students, CAs, and cleaners in the residence hall communities and (3) an “Inner Beauty” Campaign with an Instagram photo competition to show off the people and spaces inside our residence halls.
Lauren Stemler, Residential Coordinator              
Chris Marquart, Director of Residence Life           

Josh Drake, Associate Director of Residence Life
Melissa Miller, Facilities Manager
William Miller’16, Community Assistant
Taylor Gale’15, Community Assistant

Letter Writing Lunches: will make pen, stationary, envelopes, and postage available so that members of the St. Lawrence Community can pause to write a letter.  Particularly for our students, writing letters has been largely usurped by the various forms of electronic communication, however, because it is such a different process than online interaction, writing a letter is a reflective act.  Not only does applying the words directly to paper have a power that brings a focus to the moment, but the reflection in creating a communication that is not “in real time” is a stopping-to-consider of circumstance.  Further, even if letter writing is a secondary form of communication, people very much enjoy receiving letters.  Participants in any one of the letter writing events would be reaching out to someone in an unexpected and welcomed way, a way that one imagines would be good for the morale of letter writer as well as letter recipient. Paul Doty, Owen D. Young Library

Connecting SLU and Kurt Hahn High School:  This project deepens connections between St. Lawrence and the Kurt Hahn High School in Brooklyn, NY.  Kurt Hahn is an Expeditionary Learning School founded on the principles of Kurt Hahn, whose ideas also inspire the United World Colleges schools from which we attract a number of students each year.  The principal of the school is SLU alumnus  Matt Brown.  The innovation grant will bring 15-18 students and 2-3 teachers to campus during one of the school’s “Explore Weeks.”  These weeks provide enrichment/elective experiences that cannot be provided during the regular school year. The connection to the Kurt Hahn School enhances our work in the Education Department because the EL model is increasingly common in K-12 education and it is a model that fits well with St. Lawrence (it is interdisciplinary, experiential and, since it grew out of Outward Bound, integrates the natural world into education).  The Kurt Hahn School encourages students to be active in their education by, for example, having students lead conferences with parents and teachers by reporting on their work and their learning.  There is much in the work of the school from which potential educators and North Country educators might learn. As we recruit a diverse student body, drawing from Kurt Hahn will enable is to recruit students of color with an excellent background for thriving and succeeding at St. Lawrence.
Valerie Lehr, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs
Bill Short, Director of HEOP

Mapping the Laurentian Legacy:  Since its founding, St. Lawrence’s campus has grown to include spaces and objects of all kinds (buildings, rooms, windows, gardens, athletic fields, walkways, benches, trees, rocks, sculptures) named to honor or memorialize Laurentians who have contributed to the University’s history and culture. These spaces and objects tell our story. They add beauty and richness to our surroundings and bring alumni and friends back to campus to revisit those places. Currently, the information documenting the background of these named places exists in spreadsheets, Word documents and multiple other data sources.  With the aid of an Innovation Grant, we propose to bring that data together into one repository using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology so that it will be preserved, accessible and searchable.  GIS technology is already used on campus to store and map utility and other infrastructure data for planning and maintenance of campus property. The Mapping the Laurentian Legacy project will build on that technology model, as well as the Arboretum Project.   For this phase of the project, our goal is to locate, map and photograph the spaces we know exist, as well as any places discovered along the way and not currently documented. 
Valerie Ingram, Director of Donor Relations
Carol Cady, GIS/Map Librarian

Dakota Casserly, GIS/GPS Technician
Shayla Witherell, Assistant Director of Donor Relations

The North Country Folk Series: was created to offer St. Lawrence University students experiences in sustainable agriculture, northern ecology, the living arts and traditions of the North Country and other cultures.  From herbal medicines and cheese making to winter tracking and woodcarving the Folk Series has hosted three workshops this spring with four additional opportunities scheduled before the semester ends.  Three workshops have been offered in previous semesters.  These workshops have been providing students of all majors and ages free access to exciting hands-on experiences.  These educational opportunities allow students to engage with a local community expert on topics of regional relevance in a noncompetitive and supportive learning environment.  This spring’s three completed workshops served 43 students, first-year to senior.  Each workshop overfilled; more students registered than were able to attend given the need to maintain an appropriate instructor to student ratio.  Post-workshop surveys were overwhelming positive. The award of an innovation grant will extend the programs through Fall of 2014. 
Eric Williams-Bergen, Owen D. Young Library
Kristen Whittier, Folk Series Coordinator
Louise Gava, Sustainability Coordinator


Hydration Station, Madill Hall:  In the spirit of St. Lawrence University’s growing commitment to climate neutrality, sustainability, and reduction in waste, the student based Environmental Action Organization along with the Launders Science Library envision myriad benefits arising from the installation of an Elkay Hydration Station in Madill Hall, home to both Information Technology and the Science Library. This hydration station will serve the entire ‘science complex’ corner of the SLU campus comprising the Johnson Hall of Science, Bewkes Science Hall, Brown Hall, Valentine Hall, Flint Hall, the Java Performance Space and KSLU buildings, Eben Holden and the Lee and Rebert freshmen dormitory halls, as well as the Steiner Senior Residences (the Townhouses). Since there are no hydration stations in this area, the inclusion of one in Madill would not only provide a precious resource in the form of pure, clean, free, and great tasting water but also greatly increase the impact of the Environmental Action Organization’s current campaign to reduce disposable water bottle usage. The improvement and expansion of bottle filling infrastructure on campus will be vital for encouraging the use of reusable water containers. This would help work toward a cleaner and healthier environment.
Nicole Nawalaniec, Launders Science Library
Peter Vere Warden, Launders Science Library

Gwyneth Buchanan '16 , Amalie Sonneborn ’16, Margaret Nitschke ’16, and Jeffrey Mogavero ’16