Faculty members receive Faculty Innovation Grant Awards from Giving Back Endowment

By Alex Pologruto | Apr 18, 2023

MURRAY, Ky. – Three Murray State University faculty members were selected to receive grants from the Giving Back Endowment’s Faculty Innovation Initiative: Dr. Kimberly Vigil, Dr. Bommanna Loganathan and Dr. Joshua Ridley. The effort encourages faculty to incorporate innovative approaches to student community engagement into their courses. Each recipient will receive $1,000 from the Giving Back Endowment to implement their proposed projects during this academic year. 

The Giving Back Endowment was established by Dr. Bob Long and his wife, Patricia, to advance the understanding, appreciation, and application of the principles of altruism, generosity, caring, and service to others among Murray State students and faculty and across the Murray-Calloway County community. 

Long, who previously served as a distinguished visiting professor with the Nonprofit Leadership Studies program, is the lead donor for the initiative to grow and develop Murray State’s philanthropic culture. 

Dr. Elise Kieffer, program director of Nonprofit Leadership Studies, chairs a selection committee that invites faculty from across campus to apply each spring for grants to be utilized in the next academic year. 

The committee includes representatives from across campus and the local nonprofit community. All proposals were evaluated by the committee based on specified criteria, including the project’s level of innovation in engagement and philanthropy, level of importance to the academic discipline, and quality of potential impact on student learning, among other factors. 

Dr. Elise Kieffer and Dr. Kimberly Vigil

Dr. Elise Kieffer and Dr. Kimberly Vigil

Vigil, an assistant professor in the Department of Education and Human Services, was awarded $1,000 to incorporate health and wellness into the community through her course (HPE 409) in order to establish True Play, Movement and Reflection for the Calloway County community. This project will also allow the students in Vigil’s HPE 409 class to engage with the community and practice their assessment skills. While facilitating this program, students will be able to assess the program's efficiency and meet Health and Physical education outcomes. 

“The Faculty Innovation Award is important for my courses because it offers an opportunity to make sure the Calloway County community is healthy and also by providing a new experience for the students in my class,” said Vigil. “This proposed project clearly assists students that are planning to become certified physical education teachers. However, for those students that are in the non-certification track, it also models for them how they can strengthen their programs by practicing the process of aligning.” 

Dr. Elise Kieffer and Dr. Bommanna Loganathan

Dr. Elise Kieffer and Dr. Bommanna Loganathan

Loganathan, professor in the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology, received $1,000 for his course, Technology (CHE-495). Students taking this course will be engaged in a special project involving hands-on water quality measurements using advanced analytical instruments including multi-parameter electrodes, atomic absorption spectrometer, gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer. Students will also be trained in field sampling and laboratory analysis, coupled with processing data, writing reports and making presentations in local, regional and national conferences.

“This course gives the students an opportunity to apply their chemistry knowledge to assess our regional water quality, especially with respect to learning and maintaining good water quality,” said Loganathan. “Students will perform field sampling in Kentucky Lake, the Clarks River and the Ohio River.”

Dr. Elise Kieffer and Dr. Joshua Ridley

Dr. Elise Kieffer and Dr. Joshua Ridley

Ridley, professor in the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology, was awarded $1,000 to work with students in his Introduction to Astrophysics (PHY 316) class where the students will work in groups of two or three to teach basic telescope and observing fundamentals to interested community organizations. Students will teach community members how to operate telescopes, how and what to look for, safety precautions and also discuss differences between telescopes. 

The Giving Back Endowment, including the Faculty Innovation grants and the Student Engagement Initiative, are implemented by the Department of Organizational Community and Leadership in the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business. 

To learn more about the Giving Back Endowment and how to make a gift please contact Kyle Johnson with the Murray State Office of Development at 270-809-3123.

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