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ISSUE 118 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/18/2005

Grants give opportunity

By Tiffany Ayres
News Editor

Friday, March 18, 2005

Bruce Dalgaard, professor of economics, and Sian Muir, instructor of economics, were awarded a $32,000 James S. Kemper Foundation grant on March 11. The grant added yet another faculty accomplishment increasing the thousands of dollars in grant money already awarded to St. Olaf faculty over the past three months.

The James S. Kemper Foundation grant will be used in conjunction with the Finstad Office for Entrepreneurial Studies on a project that will involve St. Olaf students with start-up businesses in the Northfield community. Students will form consultant teams serving small Northfield businesses, helping with development work such as creating business plans, loan proposals and marketing plans.

Dalgaard emphasized that the grant will provide an opportunity for students interested in business to gain experience not available in the classroom.

Due to the project, which will last through the summer, students can apply the academic aspect of business from the classroom to real-world situations.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jeff Schwinefus is another recent grant recipient at St. Olaf. Schwinefus was awarded the Cottrell College Science Award Grant of $35,000 to be used on campus starting this summer. The grant money will be used to study DNA and the effects of water on DNA stabilization. Schwinefus pointed out that even though none of the grant money will be directly used in the classroom, the research experience and lab time will be valuable for later classroom application.

Deb Fleming, manager of sponsored projects in the Government and Foundation Relations Office, said that 24 awards have been distributed across all disciplines to individual faculty members as well as to teams of faculty members.

Between the beginning of the new fiscal year (June 1, 2004) up through Feb. 28, 2005, St. Olaf faculty members have been awarded approximately $1.4 million in grant money. Grant money allows professors and faculty members to enhance student experience outside of the classroom.

The (GFR) Office assists faculty pursuing government or private institution grants. The office offers help during the grant process in areas such as searching for grant opportunities and editing proposals.

Grant money opens research opportunities for students, not only by providing research positions but also in making them financially viable through stipends, as students may have to choose between research and a summer job. In some cases, such as with the James S. Kemper Foundation grant, the money will also cover the tuition cost when students use their summer experience to fulfill course internship requirements.

"It’s all for the benefit of the students; the students come first," Schwinefus said.

The state of faculty grants has not always been so fortuitous.

"There weren’t as many faculty going out looking for these resources, and that’s something that has changed over the twelve years I’ve been here," Dalgaard said. "The college has done quite a job with encouraging the faculty to pursue grant opportunities."

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