The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) has awarded Andrews University a “Reframing the Institutional Saga” grant for US$38,800 through CIC’s Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE). This grant is awarded to designated member “colleges and universities that seek to re-examine and reframe their commitments in ways that balance their history, identity, and heritage with attention to their present circumstances.”

Andrews University, based in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States, will utilize these funds to document the university’s history within its social context, the people behind the initiative said. Michael Nixon, vice president for University Culture and Inclusion, and Meredith Jones Gray, professor of English, will lead a team of researchers and writers who will work to shed light on some of the neglected stories that have shaped the school’s institutional journey. 

The project aims to incorporate a wide range of voices to inform university identity and create a more welcoming campus culture for diverse ethnicities, cultures, and religious perspectives. The truth-telling process will include voices from dominant and non-dominant groups that will be blended to reflect the history of Andrews University. 

“I am excited that we have gotten this vital grant that will help us continue on our institutional journey of reckoning with our past in authentic ways while we work together to chart the path ahead,” Nixon said. “This work began in fall 2020 with the official launch of our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center, and this CIC/NetVUE grant will help us continue this important work. It is an honor to work with such an amazing team, and we can be confident that with the Spirit’s leading that the best is yet to come!”

The grant will fund a second volume addressing the school’s history, as well as a documentary film. These outcomes will be made accessible to students, employees, alumni, and wider audiences. 

“The NetVUE grant provides a wonderful boost toward completing the next volume of the Andrews Heritage series,” Jones Gray said, “which covers the first several decades after Emmanuel Missionary College became Andrews University — the part of our institutional saga that has never been published. I am looking forward to hearing and representing the many voices that make up the Andrews story.” Jones Gray is the author of a historical account of the university, As We Set Forth: Battle Creek College and Emmanuel Missionary College (Andrews University, 2002), the first volume in the Andrews Heritage series. 

“Even though I grew up at Andrews,” Jones Gray said, “I have learned so much more, through my historical research, about the students, staff, and faculty who have contributed to our institutional story and culture. The second volume of the Andrews Heritage series begins in 1960 and covers an exciting era of growth in the history of the university. I am looking forward to hearing and representing the many voices that make up that history.”

Andrews president Andrea Luxton said that “Andrews University is delighted to receive this grant which will enable us to explore our unique institutional narrative with authenticity and transparency. As we understand our own history better, our own future will be stronger.”

NetVUE describes itself as “a nationwide network of colleges and universities formed to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students.” More than 700 colleges, universities, and organizations across North America are CIC members. Of these schools, 20 received grants in the first round of “Saga” awards. Andrews University received funding in the second round of the grant program, a significant achievement. NetVUE grants are administered by CIC with support from the Lilly Endowment and member dues.

Founded in 1874, Andrews University is a Seventh-day Adventist educational institution offering more than 160 areas of study, including advanced degrees. Besides its main campus, the school also provides instruction at colleges and universities in more than 25 countries around the world.

The original version of this story was posted on the Andrews University news page.

Walla Walla University (WWU)’s School of Engineering has been awarded a US$351,000 grant by the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The funds will be used to redesign space and provide new equipment for bioengineering labs on the campus of the Adventist school, located in Walla Walla, Washington, United States.

The grant will be matched by generous WWU donors to provide more than US$700,000 to be invested in the new laboratories. The funds will provide the School of Engineering with the needed space to grow its bioengineering concentration and actively engage students in bioengineering design, research, and development. “Coursework and research in this new space will provide students with excellent preparation to enter the rapidly growing field of bioengineering or to excel in medical school,” Brian Roth, dean of the School of Engineering, said. 

The redesigned space in Chan Shun Pavilion and new laboratory equipment such as laminar flow hoods, centrifuges, a spectrophotometer, microscopes, incubators, an autoclave, and a bioreactor will allow students to work with living cells and test biomaterials in a sterile environment. Previously, bioengineering classes have been accommodated by the Department of Biological Sciences and functioned with shared space.

Janice McKenzie, associate professor of bioengineering, said the new laboratories will substantially improve the research she does with students. “It’s a great opportunity to collaborate. Students will have the chance to build connections with people in the industry and academia through bioengineering projects,” McKenzie said. In addition, students from a wide range of disciplines will have access to the labs. Previous bioengineering research has involved students enrolled in biochemistry, mechanical and electrical engineering, and biology.

The School of Engineering has seen significant growth in its bioengineering program in the last few years. The School of Engineering added a bioengineering concentration to their engineering program in 2017. An interdisciplinary bachelor’s of science in bioengineering is also offered jointly by the School of Engineering and the Department of Biological Sciences. 

The expanded laboratories are expected to be completed in time to hold classes during the spring quarter. 

Founded in 1947, the Edward F. Cross School of Engineering has graduated more than 1,400 students to date. During the last two years, 100 percent of bioengineering graduates were employed or accepted to graduate school by the time they graduated. Since 2017, nearly 100 percent of graduates who applied for medical school were accepted.

Freshman biology major Daphne Prakash was nervous in early 2021 as she contemplated entering college and all of its unknowns. Then an opportunity arose that seemed like a good way to ease through the transition — summer STEM Bridge at La Sierra University, in Riverside, California, United States, where she had enrolled.

Funded by a 2019 Guided Pathways to Success federal Title V grant, the program launched as a pilot in August 2021 for incoming first-year students interested in careers in STEM — science, technology, engineering, or math fields. The two-week intensive gives first-year college students a training platform and opportunities ahead of the regular academic year to learn, gain insights, and develop skills necessary for STEM careers. 

Through a collaboration with the Zapara School of Business’s Freight Farm project, students in the inaugural STEM Bridge this summer learned science and technology and ways of climate-change mitigation through hydroponics agriculture. They learned the particulars of high-tech farming inside an environmentally controlled shipping container where lettuce and other crops grow with nutrient-rich water and special lighting.

First-year college students in STEM Bridge were also introduced to university faculty, resources and processes, and the layout of the campus before the fall quarter began.

“Fighting climate change is something I’m really passionate about, and so I was drawn in by the Freight Farm and the sustainable agriculture aspect of the program,” Prakash said. “I felt a lot better about starting school because of the relationships I got to make. Not only did we get to learn about STEM and the science behind the Freight Farm, but we also went over some skills that would be necessary for college, like learning how to navigate Blackboard or searching the university’s library database. Each one of us also got a mini-hydroponics kit to set up at home.”

She noted that involvement in the summer intensive also “further cemented” her interests in a STEM career and raised her confidence in her ability to handle college and go after the career path of her choice, possibly in the arena of public health.

The Title V-funded Guided Pathways to Success program, in addition to STEM Bridge, also offers financial literacy, academic support through peer-led learning, and summer research opportunities. The heart of the program is a comprehensive support system for students as they progress through their degree programs, one track tailored for community college transfers and another for first-year college students. The Guided Pathways initiative is funded by a US$3 million, five-year Title V grant received in October 2019 from the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant’s goal is to increase access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees and career opportunities for underrepresented students across the region. It dovetails with another US$3 million Title V grant the university received in October 2021 toward increasing the numbers of K-12 STEM teachers.

During the summer of 2022, the STEM Bridge program anticipates expanding to include community college transfer students, Marvin Payne, director of Title V Programs at La Sierra University, said. “We’re putting in a lot of resources from our grants and helping [students] early. If we intervene and make sure they do well, then they’re going to keep doing well all along. We believe that students shouldn’t be limited by barriers to success because of their circumstances. Our programs are helping to break down the barriers.”

The original version of this story was posted by La Sierra University.