In particular, individuals or groups can apply for competitive 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 further engage alumni and friends of SU);
  3. Provide a truly differentiated intellectual/educational experience through creative course elements, the curriculum, and co-curricular/ extracurricular activities; or
  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 (typically between $200–$1,500) will be awarded in two ways:

  1. To those who submit proposals by October 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.  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 Patricia Witt on or before the October 1 deadline.  Individuals receiving funding agree to offer a brief project post-assessment describing both successes as well as lessons learned; and
  2. In rare cases, proposals may be considered after the October 1 deadline, and awards may be made at the discretion of the President, if funds are available, to an individual or group pursuing exceptional and creative endeavors at Southwestern above and beyond their usual excellent work that addresses the previous objectives.

To date, seven Presidential Innovation Grants have been awarded:  

  • Robert Lehr ’15 received a $450 grant to support his “THINK Series” on campus;
  • The Brown Chairholders and University Scholars received $500 to launch their “Paideia Connections: Engaging Scholarly Conversations” series, which has become a regular, co-curricular event during the fall and spring semesters;
  • 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 workshop “Visual Thinking for Engaged Learning” and agreed to incorporate this new pedagogy in their classes;
  • Dr. John Ross, Visiting Assistant Professor, Mathematics received a $735 grant to improve active learning in the calculus classroom with the addition of a student assistant;
  • Dr. Dirk Early, Chair of the Economics and Business Department and Dr. Alison Kafer, Chair of the Feminist Studies Program, received a $1,325 grant for a Faculty Manuscript/Creation Workshop;
  • Dr. Josh Long, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, received a $600 grant to help support his efforts to engage students, prospective students, parents, and alumni in student-faculty research through an exhibition at Earth Day Texas 2017;
  • Dr. Emily Northrop, Professor of Economics, received a $500 grant to help support her workshops “Climate Change Connections” for faculty across the curriculum to create a module to be included one of their courses starting in the 2017–2018 academic year.

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 may also call Southwestern’s Gift Office at 512-863-1482 if you have questions.

Thank you for your creative and imaginative ideas to help move the needle on how this country defines education in this new century.