Fostering Faculty Scholarship

Students in a lab.
New internal faculty research grants support scholarly work.

“There’s something wonderful out there waiting to be discovered,” wrote Carl Sagan, the acclaimed 20th-century cosmologist. Now, thanks to Saint Mary’s internal faculty research grant program, professors are more likely than ever to make their own stellar discoveries—be they scientific breakthroughs, historic revelations, or other new ways of understanding the world.

Launched in 2014-15, the research grant initiative offers all ranked faculty the opportunity to apply for one of nine fully funded $9,000 grants given annually to support new or accelerated scholarship. Faculty research “is a vital part of being a university,” said Provost Bethami Dobkin, whose office makes the awards based on recommendations from a faculty review group. “And we have a very active, intellectually engaged faculty who will make the most of whatever we have to offer.”

Supported by existing endowment funds, the internal research grants typically pay for what Dobkin called “the time and tools” necessary to carry out a research project, chief among them a reduced teaching load. Selected from an applicant pool of 23, the 13 recipients in 2014-15 also applied their grant monies to travel for research, compensation for assistants and consultants, and software programs, among other scholarship-enhancing support.

 The faculty research grant program supports SMC’s Academic Blueprint, which identifies support of faculty and student scholarship and creativity as a key strategic direction. Dobkin noted that SMC will continue to offer separate $2,000 faculty development grants for costs associated with attending academic conferences.

“At Saint Mary’s, a college where teaching is so valued, most of the faculty came here with a passion for teaching,” said Sawako Suzuki, a professor of education who received an internal faculty research grant to support her cross-cultural research on parenting. But at the same time, Suzuki said, “there are a lot of dream research projects that faculty have in their minds—and now Saint Mary’s has really given us the opportunity to do them.”