Grant proposals to go up

Kate Bigam

President Lester Lefton said he wants Kent State faculty to write more grant proposals in an effort to increase funding in areas such as psychology, education and the sciences.

There is currently no system in place to force faculty to write grant proposals, but Lefton said he has asked deans and department chairs to encourage their faculty to write more.

“I would like Kent State University to achieve its potential, particularly in fields where there is funding potential,” he said.

Lefton said he would like to see grant proposals built into the university’s rewards system, so faculty who increase the number of proposals written would be eligible for various rewards, such as a new piece of technological equipment or a reduced teaching load.

“It’s a very competitive environment, and it’s getting more competitive all the time,” he said.

James Blank, chairman of the department of biological sciences, said the faculty in his department write grants based on their own initiative, and there is currently no system in place to encourage them to write more. They write proposals because they realize the importance of funding biological research, he said.

“The way things have developed over time, we all come from backgrounds where this is part of the culture where you do it, and you do it because you love it,” Blank said.

He added, however, that he is inspired by Lefton’s suggestion to include proposal-writing in the rewards system. Lefton understands the need for incentives, Blank said, because he has a background in psychology, another area in which grant-writing is crucial.

“We can be much more successful in grant-getting,” Blank said. “The question now is how do we do that?”

As another means of fundraising for the university, Lefton is working with President emeritus Carol Cartwright to introduce himself to a host of potential donors. However, he said it will take two to three years to build trusting relationships with these individuals before securing financial gifts for the university.

In a Sept. 15 e-mail to the student body, Lefton listed recent monetary gifts to the university:

The Plain Dealer has pledged $250,000 to aid in the creation of Franklin Hall, which will become home to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication next fall.

• A $50,000 donation from the GAR Foundation, an Akron-based company, will create the Opportunity Scholarship Fund to help students with no other financial options pay for their education.

• A gift from Victoria Read and her late husband Gerald, a professor of comparative and international education, will fund library renovations and a graduate assistantship.

• Lake County resident Mary Novak left Kent State $700,000 to fund student scholarships.

In the e-mail, Lefton expressed confidence that the university will be able secure more financial gifts in the future.

“We will continue working diligently to expand that circle of friends to support our students and faculty,” he said.

Contact administration reporter Kate Bigam at [email protected].