McKnight Foundation grant honors U faculty

Brian Bakst

The McKnight Foundation announced Monday that the University Foundation will receive more than $300,000 in grants for this fiscal quarter.
Almost $11 million was distributed Monday to various Minnesota organizations by the McKnight Foundation. The grants help fund projects in the arts, environment, human services and other areas.
Earlier this month, the University Board of Regents honored 10 professors as recipients of the Distinguished McKnight Professorship award. The program, which is in its inaugural year, was partly funded by an unrestricted $10 million McKnight endowment that the University Foundation received in the mid-1980s.
The Distinguished McKnight Professorship gives $100,000 apiece during a five-year period to tenured faculty members who have recently attained full-professor status. Award recipients can apply their grant money to research, professional travel expenses or summer- or sabbatical-leave salary. The award is similar to the McKnight Land-Grant Professorship created by the Graduate School in 1987 to honor nontenured faculty members.
More than 60 departments from both the Twin Cities and outstate University campuses nominated professors for the new award, said Associate Dean of the Graduate School Myrna Smith.
Smith said the program was started because of the dwindling number of nominations for the McKnight Land-Grant Professorship award.
Chemical engineering professor Frank Bates was one of the 10 recipients of the Distinguished McKnight Professorship award. Bates, who said he will use his money for research, was nominated by the head of his department, Matthew Tirrell. “I was very grateful for his confidence in me,” Bates said.
So far this year, the McKnight Foundation has made six grants to the University, totaling $397,500. In 1995, the Foundation made 12 grants to the University for a total of $795,000.
The University is responsible for distributing the grant money it receives. For instance, the studio arts department will divide the $288,000 grant it received Monday among individual photographers in the department.
The McKnight Foundation, which was established by William and Maude McKnight, only provides grants to nonprofit organizations. Last year, more than $55 million was applied toward 750 McKnight grants. McKnight Foundation Communications Officer Sylvia Paine said the University has received countless donations from the foundation since it was established in 1953.