The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Former women’s studies lecturer coordinates Title III grant

A former UW-Eau Claire women’s studies faculty member will coordinate the implementation of a nearly $1.75 million grant from the U.S. government set to aid the university in curricular reform.

The university is one of 57 colleges and universities to receive the grant from the Strengthening Institutions program under the Department of Education, according to a university press release.

Senior Marci Korb originally met the grant’s coordinator, Laurel Kieffer, as a freshman while taking an introductory women’s studies course. After the course, she subsequently decided to become a women’s studies minor.

“I think Professor Kieffer is very passionate about what she does, and she really cares about the good of everybody,” she said. “I think she’s completely qualified.”

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Korb added she thinks it’s important to have a women’s studies professor working in a position like Kieffer’s.

“I think women’s studies professors – everyone that I’ve known has been really, really supportive and really in touch with their students,” she said. “It’s really good to have that kind of perspective in the administration.”

The university will receive the grant over five years, said Susan Turell, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of undergraduate studies. The university started receiving funding last fall, which has thus far led to the opening of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning on campus.

“This grant is a tool; it’s a really good tool to provide some resources to do the work and do it well,” Kieffer said.

Kieffer said that primarily, the grant is targeted to pilot projects that are on the path to reform general education and freshman transition courses.

Turell said a revised general education reform, or rather, liberal education core program, would ideally help students be more intentional with their learning.

“While we’ll start with pilots, ultimately the money is really designed to help curricular development so that within five years, we’ve got a revised . liberal education core program,” she said, adding that they also hope to infuse more multicultural and global course offerings into the curriculum. Another pilot program, Kieffer added, is connected learning, which is an advising initiative.

Kieffer said her role with the grant is still unfolding, but some of her duties will include facilitating committee-structured discussions and working with other key people to implement this project.

Turell said the grant was initially written to pilot programs that the university wanted to do anyway, with or without the money from the grant.

“What it does is it really gives us resources to make it happen more quickly and more effectively for students,” she said.

Turell said the grant will serve as a starting point by laying groundwork for pilot programs. In addition, the grant will run out after the Blugold Commitment is fully funded. If the initiatives begun under the grant are successful, she said, they could become institutionalized under money from the Blugold Commitment.

“It’s not like any of this is being picked out of the air,” Kieffer said. “It really is all purposefully interwoven for a plan of larger excellence at UW-Eau Claire.”

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Former women’s studies lecturer coordinates Title III grant