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Research Excellence Initiative funds College research through philanthropic support

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

LAWRENCE — More than $250,000 in externally fundraised research support has been awarded to more than 100 faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences through the new Research Excellence Initiative.
 
This initiative invests in researchers who span across disciplines represented in the College, part of the University of Kansas. The awards were designed to encourage collaboration and innovation in research and creative works while simultaneously increasing opportunities for student participation in research. The program conceptualizes research as both a process for making discoveries with far-reaching effects and an experiential learning opportunity that prepares students for a variety of careers in academia, industry and government. 
 
“The College is home to so many of the faculty whose work contributes to KU’s reputation as a top research institution. By investing in their work, we are investing in the success of our university and its impact in communities, both locally and globally,” said Carl Lejuez, dean of the College. “With respect to students, having both the opportunity to take classes with world-renowned researchers, and also to work side-by-side with them in the research process, is a significant part of what makes a KU degree so valuable. I am thrilled to have a resource that allows us to support scholars at so many stages in their careers. We are indebted to our dedicated and generous donors who have made these goals possible.”
 
The Research Excellence Initiative provides a variety of awards, all funded through private gifts. Awards offer funding to support discipline-specific and collaborative research projects and equipment, travel to research sites and conferences, course releases to enhance research productivity with student mentoring, grant-writing support, bridge and seed funding to enhance external grant success, and a host of other resources to enable research excellence for both faculty and students. 
 
Projects funded by this initiative will explore a range of subjects, such as examining the effects of a reward system to help adolescents overcome eating disorders; illustrating a book that is in press that explores modernist decorative arts created by Tunis-based artists; developing research-based, online resources to enable East Africans who are working to build healthier communities; and developing new methods to calculate key measures for transport properties in CO2-expanded liquids. 
 
The Research Excellence Initiative is unique nationally in that it is fully funded through external fundraising and not through the existing College budget. Specifically, funds are provided through the Dean’s Research Excellence Fund, as well as several legacy funds established by alumni, friends and faculty: Tony Arnold Faculty Innovation Fund; John and Melinda McConnell Opportunity Fund; Mabel L. Rice Child Language Doctoral Program Fund; Dr. Robert L. & Irma McCullough Buchele Fund; Waggoner Fund; Garrett Fund; Hall Interdisciplinary Research Fund; Kate Stephens Fellowship; Linenberger Faculty Award; John P. Bowman Humanities Fund; and the Jessie Marie Cramer Senor Fund. 
 
Applicants were asked to articulate research objectives, with emphasis on how their work would also affect student participation, learning and networking. Additional resources were awarded to increase active participation of undergraduate students in the process of conducting authentic research alongside faculty mentors.
 
Applications were reviewed by a panel of peer faculty and staff who have expertise across the social and natural sciences, arts and humanities.
 
The College will open the call for proposals each fall with awards to be made during the spring semester, with additional opportunities in open calls throughout the academic year. The Research Excellence Initiative is led by the College’s interim associate deans for research, Professors Tamara Falicov and Joy Ward, and administrative associate for research, Tabatha Gabay. 
 
Funds for the Research Excellence Initiative are managed by KU Endowment, the independent nonprofit foundation serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
 
The College is the heart of KU, educating the most students, producing the most research and collaborating with nearly every entity at KU. The College is home to more than 50 departments, programs and centers, as well as the School of the Arts, School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures and School of Public Affairs & Administration.