Grants rejuvenate faculty, provide research opportunities

Just like students, faculty are more engaged when they are excited about their work. Upon beginning her tenure at Goshen College, Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus immediately began to think of ways to reinvigorate the faculty. One of the ways Stoltzfus has done so is with Faculty Renewal Grants. Thanks to these grants, GC has provided 20 faculty with funding for academic projects and upgrades to equipment and academic programs.  

The grants were introduced by Stoltzfus in November 2017. Of the $1,000,000 raised by Stoltzfus in her first six months for a President’s Innovation Fund, $335,000 was dedicated to the grant program. This money was provided by the board of directors, members of the president’s cabinet and alumni. Each individual faculty member given a grant recieves $12,500, while group projects receive $25,000.

“Passionate scholars are better teachers,” Stoltzfus said. “These opportunities allow our faculty to renew their particular expertise as researchers and teachers.”

Faculty from a multitude of departments, including history, chemistry and nursing, received funding during the first round of grants. To qualify for a grant, faculty submitted an application that was reviewed by a faculty committee led by Ann Vendrely, academic dean.

“The grants give faculty the opportunity to advance their own scholarship and learning through travel, collaboration with others in their discipline and time to analyze data or write,” Stoltzfus said.

With the money provided to her by the grant, Suzanne Ehst, associate professor of education, will travel to Finland to study their education system.

“Finland is known for innovative, equitable education and for their high regard for the teaching profession,” Ehst said. “As an education professor, I’m concerned about the state of public education in the United States, and I want to see firsthand how Finland has approached the challenge to provide free, quality education to all its youth.”

Ehst hopes to travel to Finland next fall. Her faculty renewal grant will cover travel expenses costs such as airfare, lodging and registration for the learning tour. She is grateful for these grants, as she believes that the research opportunities this provides are important to the contentment levels of the faculty, giving them opportunities to do more than just teach.

“Research is not written into our loads and contracts in the same way that it is at many other universities,” said Ehst. “This renewal grant provides faculty with time and money to pursue their scholarly interests, which in turn enriches our teaching and our professional lives.”

Jessica Baldanzi, professor of English, is using her grant to develop a manuscript on comics and the representations of women’s bodies. She is also working on a manuscript consisting of a series of scholarly essays on Marvel’s Ms. Marvel.

“We’re proposing a panel at the Popular Culture Association Conference in Washington, D.C. next April,” said Baldanzi. “If our proposal is accepted, we’ll be able to promote that book when it comes out next year, and I’ll also be able to develop and present a paper on my new topic, too.”

Baldanzi believes that this series of grants may help to rejuvenate a fatigued faculty group.

“Faculty are pretty worn out right now, since sabbaticals have been suspended due to budget constraints,” she said. “We all love teaching, but it takes a lot of time and emotional energy to do it well, so we all need a break every once in a while.”

This fall, a second round of grants will be awarded to faculty members.

Patrick Webb, Contributing Writer
Patrick Webb, Contributing Writer
Written by Patrick Webb, Contributing Writer

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