Faculty members receive Faculty Innovation Grant Awards from Giving Back Endowment

By Olivia Beach | Apr 5, 2024

Drs. Megan St. Peters, Kelsey Chadwick, and Stephanie Rea

Drs. Megan St. Peters, Kelsey Chadwick, and Stephanie Rea

MURRAY, Ky. – Three Murray State University faculty members were selected to receive grants from the Giving Back Endowment’s Faculty Innovation Initiative: Drs. Megan St. Peters, Kelsey Chadwick, and Stephanie Rea. 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. 

St. Peters, a professor in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, was awarded $1,000 to help students engage in experiments demonstrating physiological psychology to fourth graders through her course (PSY 621) Biological Bases of Behavior. Murray State students will go to the Murray Middle School fourth-grade science classes to have the children engage with the experiments hands-on, plot the data, talk about the results and implications, and be given a handout that summarizes the information learned. 

“The project aims to foster relationships between Murray State University and the local community by having MSU college students go into the community and teach what they’ve learned in the classroom using hands-on experiments to a target audience of fourth-grade MMS students. In doing so, this project should reinforce physiological psychology concepts for the graduate students and stimulate curiosity and interest in psychological science and Murray State University in general for the children. It also strengthens relationships between the faculty of MSU and teachers and parents in the local community.”

Chadwick, a professor in the College of Education and Human Services, received $1,000 for her course, FCS 340 in the Family and Consumer Sciences field. Course objectives include "design and create textile products using different materials" and "acquire teaching methods to teach lessons about fashion and textiles,” and these projects would ensure that students were able to meet these goals while serving the community. 

“Students will learn hand-stitching skills, needle felting skills, lesson planning, and lab management through this project. They will also learn how to teach children about diversity and belonging through the Love Monsters project, as well as how to encourage working with textiles as an activity for mental health among older youth.”

Rea, a professor in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, was awarded $1,000 to invite a teacher of improvisation Kevin Roame (corporate trainer from WorkPlay Corporate Improv Training, improv teacher at The Second City in Chicago) to the campus, where the students will be able to practice the tools of improv and adapt them into their curriculum. This will improve communication skills, as well as aid anxiety/stress management through fun and innovative workshops and activities. Roame will work directly with students in existing classes and in sign-up sessions, give a free, public improv performance and a public talk on using comedy and improv in the classroom and life, and a free workshop for the community at Playhouse in the Park. 

“As part of his services, Kevin would serve as a consultant for such a troupe, and he will create a reference guide and short review video with some how-tos to help interested students, faculty, staff, and administration use elements of improv covered in his time on our campus to help aid in building community in classrooms, in campus organizations, in departments and colleges through learning how to model better ‘yes, and’ philosophy that is part-and-parcel to performing improv.”

The Giving Back Endowment, including the Faculty Innovation grants and the Student Engagement Initiative, is 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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