Foundation’s donation to enhance learning for University students

Bryce Haugen

The Archibald Bush Foundation, a regional nonprofit organization, donated $990,000 last month to the University of Minnesota system.

The money will be split among four of the University campuses as part of a three-year initiative between the foundation and the University system to enhance student learning.

The initiative has three goals, said John Archibald, the foundation’s senior program officer.

He said the grant will aim to keep student learning at the forefront of faculty members’ concerns and help faculty assess how students are learning.

According to its Web site, the St. Paul-based foundation “is committed to enhancing the quality of life in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.”

Each campus earmarked its share of the grant.

The Twin Cities campus will use its share of the donation to improve student learning in 1000-to-3000-level courses with more than 50 students, said Carol Carrier, University vice president for human resources.

“We want to use great technological applications and other innovations to make the classes really engaging and interesting for students,” Carrier said.

Joyce Weinsheimer, the Twin Cities campus’ Center for Teaching and Learning Services director, said students have more difficulty in larger classes.

Just how the Twin Cities campus will use the funds is undecided, said Linda Jorn, Digital Media Center director and one of the grant’s principal investigators.

This week, the Twin Cities campus began looking for faculty, teaching specialists and technology consultants who are interested in joining the teams that will set funding priorities, Jorn said.

The teams will be selected in January and begin meeting in February, she said.

Jorn said the money could be used for online learning tools such as WebCT or put toward “professional allowances” for teaching assistants and faculty.

“This is money they can use to go to conferences to present the work they’re doing,” she said.

She said the Twin Cities campus will ideally host a national conference within three years to share teaching strategies developed with grant funding.

“We’re very excited about these opportunities,” Jorn said.

According to the Center for Teaching and Learning Services’ Web site, funds allocated to the Morris campus will be used to promote teaching to multiple learning styles. The Crookston campus will focus on collaborative learning, and the Duluth campus will concentrate on creating self-regulated learners.