Baylor Receives $49,500 3M Vision Grant for New Community-Based Science Course

Aug. 24, 1999

by LoAna Lopez

Baylor University today received $30,000 from the 3M Vision Grant foundation to help develop a new Science Leadership Course which will be aimed at providing scientific research to benefit the Waco and Central Texas community.

The presentation to the University is the first of three grant installments which will total $49,500 from 3M. This is the second time Baylor has been awarded the Vision Grant, a rarity according to 3M officials.

"As far as I know, this is only the second school in the country that has received two Vision Grants," said Russell Bridges, government and community affairs manager for 3M. Approximately 50 private colleges and universities were invited to apply for the grant.

With the grant money, Baylor will develop a novel science course that engages interdisciplinary teams of Baylor students and faculty in solving community-based problems that require scientific expertise. Entities such as city governments, schools and non-profit organizations stand to gain from the course.

The 3M Vision Grant recognizes, supports and encourages innovation at private colleges.

Key to the award is the shared experience of students and faculty working together, reaching beyond traditional areas of study and connecting with the community outside of the campus.Bridges, who served on the private college committee that selected Baylor as this year's recipient, said Baylor's proposed Science Leadership Course fit the bill perfectly. "The committee liked that this course goes beyond the campus. This will benefit not only Baylor students, but also Waco and Central Texas. We liked that ripple effect."

The course eventually will be divided into three sections: medical research and public health care issues, local environmental issues, and improving science education at the middle school level.

"There's a growing emphasis on community service in college courses," said Dr. Benjamin Pierce, professor of biology and associate dean for sciences, College of Arts and Sciences. "It's been shown that students who participate in an academic course that has a service component are more likely to continue in community service after they graduate. In that way, it has a long-range benefit."

In addition to Pierce, faculty members who helped develop the program are: Larry Lehr, lecturer in environmental studies; Dr. Daniel Wivagg, professor of biology and director of undergraduate studies in biology; Dr. Joe Yelderman, professor of geology; and Dr. Ray Wilson, professor of biology.

In 1996, Baylor received its first 3M Vision Grant to establish a community service program. Students were involved in research, conducted free of charge, to learn and apply social science methodology and statistics by working with community non-profit organizations. The organizations received information on the value of their service to the community.

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