WMU News

Research and program grants in 2002-03 exceed $32 million

Sept. 14, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University landed more than $32.9 million in grants during the 2002-03 fiscal year, according to a report presented to the WMU Board of Trustees at its Sept. 12 meeting.

The year-end total of $32,920,856 includes more than $1.9 million awarded in June, the final month of the 2002-03 fiscal year. External funding figures for July, the first month of the 2003-04 fiscal year, total $682,925, with most of the funding targeted at research projects and academic support efforts.

Major grants included in the report reflect substantial funds from a number of federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation. The $1,194,309 in federal awards for the two-month reporting period support a wide variety of activities, including efforts to improve training for professionals who serve working-age blind and low-vision adults, ongoing work to assist Upward Bound program participants in high school and college, and an initiative to help K-12 math and science educators and teacher interns bolster youngsters' interests in engineering and technology.

Among other grants included in the report to the trustees was a $185,792 award from the U.S. Department of Education to the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology. The grant will continue to underwrite "Language and Literacy for Diverse Populations," a project intended to increase the number of fully qualified professionals from diverse cultural and ability groups to serve children with special needs.

"Through this project, graduate students are being prepared to provide speech and language services to children and their families in contextually based settings, such as classrooms or on interdisciplinary teams," says Dr. Yvette D. Hyter, WMU assistant professor speech pathology and audiology, who is working with Drs. Nickola W. Nelson and Michael J. Clark on the project. "We are focused on providing services and teaching students how to become part of systems. That's important because children are being helped in the context or the situation in which they need the help, and that is part of the foundation of supporting language development. You don't learn to speak in a vacuum."

Other large grants include a $161,628 award from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Dr. Ronald B. Chase, professor of geosciences, and Dr. Alan Kehew, chairperson of the Department of Geosciences. They will use the funding to continue their research on the eroding southeastern Lake Michigan shoreline bluffs. Currently, the pair is focusing on erosion issues at sites in South Haven and Saugatuck.

"There are many places where the coastal bluffs are being lost to erosion and it's a pretty serious problem," says Chase, who has been working on the project for about three years. "People lose houses, property, septic systems, and on very rare occasions, they may lose their life. This is a very serious problem, and what we are doing is investigating the degree to which groundwater is affecting that."

A $115,086 grant from the National Science Foundation will help upgrade equipment for the WMU tandem Van de Graaff Accelerator Laboratory, while a new $42,000 award from the former Pharmacia and Upjohn Company will assist Dr. Bassam E. Harik in assessing the economic and human impact of pharmaceuticals. Harik is the chairperson of WMU's Department of Economics.

In addition to extensive funding for research efforts, grants also were awarded for public service projects. Those include a $20,000 award from the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management to Dr. Jean Kimmel, associate professor of economics, for use in her investigation of the "motherhood wage gap."

"Among women, moms often earn less than non-moms," Kimmel says. "We're looking at three different things: access to family leave, which helps to reduce that gap some; how the motherhood wage gap is impacted by a woman's level of education; and finally, the whole labor economics idea that a full compensation package isn't just your paycheck. There is the sense that you trade off one kind of benefit for another."

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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