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Mellon Foundation grants support research initiatives, digital library

August 26, 2010
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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has continued its long-standing support of Gallaudet by approving two grants to the University. On June 25, President Hurwitz was notified that the foundation had approved a $100,000 discretionary grant earmarked to support presidential initiatives. Over the next three years, the University will use these funds to advance research in the Molecular Genetics Laboratory and to develop a similar framework for research opportunities in the Chemistry Department for undergraduate students. And on April 2, the University learned that its proposal of $500,000 to continue the expansion of the Gallaudet Video Library had been approved by Mellon.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious New President’s Award,” said Hurwitz. “The Mellon Foundation’s support will help us achieve the important goal in our Long Range Strategic Plan of establishing Gallaudet as an epicenter of research.” The Molecular Genetics Laboratory, which opened in 2008, sponsors research conducted by undergraduate students alongside faculty members, expanding experiential learning opportunities and developing cutting-edge technical and critical thinking skills needed to compete with top graduates from other colleges and universities. The foundation’s discretionary grant will enable Gallaudet to further develop these opportunities.

The Digital Library is a collaborative project of Academic Technology Video Services and the University Library Deaf Collection and Archives. It currently consists of video presentations, interviews, and events documenting deaf culture and deaf history. Mellon’s gift will allow the University to expand from a video collection to include preservation of text and images for this important archival material, which will now be called the Gallaudet Deaf Digital Library.

“I am very grateful that Mellon has provided historical and continued support for this very important work, and I look forward to the many accomplishments it will lead to in the coming years,” said Earl Parks, director of the Academic Technology Department and project director for the Gallaudet Deaf Digital Library grant proposal. “Thanks to the Mellon grant, the Deaf Digital Library will have additional deaf-related material including, but not limited to, archival and contemporary video content, deaf artwork, and historical documents in a digital format that will be available online and integrated into federated library systems.” Parks said this will not only allow for enhanced research capacities but will also make material available in ways not possible previously. “For many years, researchers had to physically travel to Gallaudet to conduct research on deaf history, but with this generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, research will be readily accessible online,” said Parks. He added that an important component of the project is dedicated to making material accessible via search engines, enabling scholars to search for key words in captioned files or transcripts, as well as indexed PDF files.

The Mellon Foundation and Gallaudet have enjoyed a strong partnership since 1992. Since then, with support from the foundation, the University has improved American Sign Language communication on campus, developed faculty leaders for implementing technology into the teaching and learning process, and reached all faculty members through ongoing training and seminars to implement technology effectively in their classrooms. Further, the Mellon Foundation’s support has enabled Gallaudet to develop models to show how courses taught by non-technical faculty can be redesigned, using technologies, to meet specific learning outcomes. It has also enabled Gallaudet students to have real-world experiences working with teams to support curriculum redesign activities.

26 August 2010

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