Faculty receives record amount of sponsored programs funding

Mai Hoang

Western faculty broke a record in the 2002 fiscal year by receiving over $24 million in sponsored program funds, an increase of 9 percent from last year.

Phil Myers, director at Western’s Office of Sponsored Programs, said the $24 million was generated by faculty who have received grants and service contracts from local corporations and state and federal government agencies.

Faculty and students use the grant money to fund various projects ranging from finding ways to improve technology in the classroom to running a center for disabled infants.

Myers said the $24 million in sponsored program funding has impacted at least 1,100 undergraduate and graduate students during the past year.

Psychology professor Sharon Mutter had students help faculty do lifespan development research this summer. The research project was funded by a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation.

“They get to spend their summer in the laboratory doing work that is meaningful for their career,” she said.

Mutter also received a grant from the National Institute on Aging to continue her research in judgment and decision process in older adults.

“Having a grant gives you a lot of freedom of choice in what you do,” she said. “You get to determine the direction you take. You get to determine how you spend your days.”

Some grants may also be used towards funding projects that will benefit people who live beyond the Hill.

Psychology professor Leroy Metze received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help improve a teacher’s use of technology in the classroom.

Metze has conducted interest groups and brought in professional experts to help teach Western faculty to best use technology like Powerpoint and the Internet in their classes.

“In the process, we’re helping faculty across Western’s campus increase their use of technology so they will be good models for future teachers,” Metze said. “This particular project has an impact because the literature tells us that the proper use of technology in our instruction increases learning.”

Myers said the support of Western administrators has played a role in helping increase the amount of grants faculty has received.

“I think the deans and academic affairs have been successful in recruiting grant-oriented faculty members,” Myers said. “That shows the quality of the new faculty we’re getting.”

Myers said Western’s strategic plan calls for $30 million in sponsored program funding by 2006.

For Mutter, the key to success is to keep trying.

“You have to be persistent,” she said. “Sometimes what will happen is that you will submit a proposal, and it won’t get funded the first time, but you just send it again. You keep on doing it.”

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]