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ISSUE 120 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/23/2007

Martin connects

By Lauren Radomski
Variety Editor

Friday, February 23, 2007

Patricia Martin, a former newspaper reporter, educator and administrator, was recently named Head of Government and Foundation Relations, the office responsible for connecting members of the St. Olaf College community with funding from government agencies and private foundations.

Prior to her appointment at St. Olaf, Martin held communications positions at Carleton College, where she worked for 20 years, and later at the Mayo Clinic. “My years at Carleton really acquainted me with the joys of the liberal arts environment,” she said, “and frankly, my years at Mayo told me how much I missed that.”

According to Martin, the Government and Foundation Relations Office is a resource for faculty pursuing both career and institutional goals. The office, located along St. Olaf Avenue in Holland House, assists faculty with sabbatical projects, suggests grants and fellowships and helps locate special library collections, among other things.

As Martin explained, a major role of Government and Foundation Relations is monitoring the use of money given to the school by outside sources. “We want to participate in the good stewardship of external funds that come to the College,” she said. "Foundations really want to know that we spend the money the way we said we would and that we spent it wisely.”

Martin said foundations today distribute funding differently than they did 15 years ago. While organizations in the past tended to give money to a variety of causes, “now foundations are pretty directive,” she said. Because these groups have particular missions in mind, “one of our roles is to ensure that St. Olaf’s mission is accomplished as well.”

One example of a St. Olaf initiative that has received the assistance of Government and Foundation Relations is the Center for Innovation in the Liberal Arts (CILA), founded in 2000 by a grant from the Bush Foundation. CILA is a resource for faculty interested in changes in the fields of teaching and learning. More recent awards include the $500,000 grant to the mathematics department by the National Science Foundation and the $10,000 grant awarded to the dance department by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Martin said Government and Foundation Relations keeps a tight connection with the intellectual life of the college. The office reports to the Dean “to keep us really close to the academic enterprise.” As Martin put it, while the president and deans provide the college with direction, she’s part of the group who “gets the fuel to take us there.”

Martin plans to build on the office’s strengths.

“This office in the past has been successful and we plan to be increasingly successful,” Martin said.

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