Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Presidential Innovation Grants Initiative


Dear Members of the Southwestern University Community,

Welcome to the first day of our fall semester. I hope you are starting the year refreshed, inspired, and ready to accomplish wonders. I’m writing to announce the call for proposals for the Presidential Innovation Grants Initiative.

Three grants were awarded last year:  One to a student, one to faculty, and one to an alumnus. Robert Lehr ’15 received a $450 grant to support his “THINK Series” on campus this current academic year. The Brown Chairholders and University Scholars received $500 to launch their “Paideia Connections: Engaging Scholarly Conversations” series last spring.  This series will become a regular, co-curricular event during the fall and spring semesters.  And Dr. Laurence Musgrove ’76, English Professor at Angelo State University, received a $1,500 grant to distribute to interested SU faculty who engaged in his spring workshop “Visual Thinking for Engaged Learning” and agreed to incorporate this new pedagogy in their classes this year on campus.

I hope future grants will foster even greater experimentation and creativity throughout all we do at Southwestern as well as encouraging individuals to “push the envelope” and take creative and thoughtful risks in the noble pursuit of redefining a meaningful and valuable residential liberal arts undergraduate experience. In particular, individuals or groups can apply for micro/seed funding through this initiative for thought-provoking projects that:

  1. Offer members of the Southwestern University community opportunities (that either transcend any one field or bridge several different areas) that intentionally further enhance or sharpen their abilities to think effectively, imaginatively, thoughtfully, and wisely.
  2. Have wide-reaching impact and visibility within and beyond Southwestern University (including the possibility to attract gifted prospective students and engage alumni and friends of SU).
  3. Provide a truly differentiated intellectual/educational experience (as compared to other academic institutions) through creative course elements, the curriculum, and co-curricular/extracurricular activities.
  4. Promise the possibility of sustainability (that is, there is an expectation that the initiative/program/project proposed will continue for more than one year).

These modest grants (with award amounts typically between $200–$1,500) will be awarded in two ways:

  1. To those who submit proposals by October 1 or March 1: Grant requests should be no longer than three pages of narrative describing the project and how the proposal addresses the objectives above. The request should also include a detailed budget, timeline, and expected results or outcomes that would indicate whether or not the approach/project/plan was successful as conceived. Proposals can be submitted by individuals or groups of Southwestern University faculty, students, staff, alumni, parents, and trustees. A small number of proposals will be funded, thus these grants are competitive. In some cases, however, individuals who submitted a proposal that is not funded might be invited to resubmit a revised proposal. The president will award these grants as funds are available and may consult with colleagues to help assess proposals. Grant proposals should be emailed to Francie Schroeder at on or before the semester deadlines above. Individuals receiving funding agree to offer a brief project post-assessment describing both successes as well as lessons learned.
  2. In exceptional cases, at the discretion of the president, awards may be made without the submission of a proposal to an individual or group pursuing new and creative endeavors at Southwestern above and beyond their usual excellent work that addresses the previous objectives.

If you wish to contribute funds to the Presidential Innovation Grants Initiative, any such gifts would be greatly appreciated. Please go to Southwestern’s online giving page to make a gift. Select “Other Designation” and enter Presidential Innovation Grants Initiative. You can also call Southwestern’s Gift Office at 512-863-1482 if you have questions.

As always, I look forward to learning of your creative and imaginative ideas to help move the needle on how this country defines education in this new century. I hope your semester will be inspiring, enriching, engaging, challenging, uplifting, and joyful. Thank you for all you do for Southwestern University.

Looking forward,

      Edward Burger