“Grant seeking has become part of the landscape for most institutions,” Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said. “The college seemed to receive intermittent grant funding over the years, but when I arrived at Unity, I had a vision that included a system being put into place to start aggressively seeking opportunities. With our mission, it seemed a natural fit, and that move has started to show results.”
The grants secured by the college this year have benefitted various initiatives across campus. They have been used to increase research opportunities, promote program development, reduce the college’s carbon footprint, and renovate key facilities allowing for multipurpose utilization.
The major grants received include:
- Unity College Associate Professor Dr. Carrie Diaz Eaton received $202,549 as collaborators from five other colleges and universities were awarded a five-year, $2.9 million National Science Foundation grant in August 2014 that supports the coordinated initiatives of the Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis Consortium. The product of an earlier NSF incubator grant, the QUBES Consortium is an alliance of professional societies and academic institutions united around common goals in quantitative biology education. The first QUBES initiative was to articulate a vision for a collaborative workspace – QUBES Hub – that will be the virtual site of the larger project. The most recent award will enable the QUBES Consortium to build a framework for improving undergraduate biology education through five major initiatives: coordinating effort and resources among disparate communities for promoting quantitative biology education, supporting faculty, increasing the visibility, utility, and adoption of existing educational materials, quantifying and tracking faculty contribution in the scholarship of teaching and learning, and studying and disseminating the features of QUBES that increase implementation success.
- $46,551 from Up East Foundation – Wyeth Family Foundation Partners for research education projects on Allen Island. The four projects currently being funded are: Student Development of Site Use and Protection Policies for Allen Island; Cyprinid Project: Do Freshwater Minnows at Allen Island Demonstrate Genetic or Behavioral Isolation from Mainland Populations; Preliminary Chemical Analysis/Survey of Allen Island; and Determining the Distribution and Ecology of the New Species of Tardigrade E. Wyethi on Allen Island,.
- A $39,520 Grants to Green Maine award supports the renovation of the Unity College Center for Performing Arts to reduce the carbon footprint. Ultimately, the project will reduce energy use institutional operating costs, and fossil fuel consumption at the facility to address climate change and more closely align with our mission. The UCCPA plays and important cultural and economic role in rural central Maine, and is an integral part of the campus identity.
- A grant of $30,000 from an anonymous source supported renovation and expansion of Wyman Commons, the largest dining facility on the Unity College campus, to enhance the student experience and provide additional space to hold campus functions.
- $15,000 from Maine Outdoor Heritage Foundation supports the Unity College Bear Study. The purpose of this grant is to investigate density, home range, recruitment, dispersal, and other population metrics of a colonizing black bear population in central Maine. The grant will support the third year of a multi-year project used to inform Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife bear management objectives and provide practical, hands-on experience for Unity College students planning, implementing, and evaluating real-life, large mammal research and management.
- $4,000 from the Davis Foundation through the Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont Campus Compact to create institutional change by embedding service-learning projects into courses, thereby strengthening teaching and curriculum, student learning outcomes, and interdisciplinary approaches to education.
Khoury said all of these grant-funded initiatives have a direct impact on students, ensuring they have access to opportunities that are critical in their achievement of an education immersed in sustainability science that equips them to be environmental leaders.“We are encouraged by the work our faculty and students are allowed to do because of grant funding,” he said. “There are many foundations that do not know about us and the specificity of our mission. I hope as we continue to move forward, we can expand our partnerships and the impact we could have on the environment.”