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2006.09/27 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkaldahl@mail.unomaha.edu

NU Foundation Awards Grants to UNO for Development of New Programs

Omaha - The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is the recipient of two grants from the University of Nebraska Foundation to bolster newly created academic programs on campus. The Institute for Collaboration Science and the Mathematics Learning Center were awarded a total of $235,000. The foundation awards grants each year to worthy campus projects.

Institute for Collaboration Science

The Institute for Collaboration Science (ICS) received a $125,000 grant. Plans were started for the institute in 2005 with the belief that to be successful and profitable in an ever-changing marketplace, organizations must master the art and science of collaboration. It draws upon experts from across UNO, including business, information science, psychology, communication, education and public administration.

"It is very possible the institute will become a national center of expertise on collaboration processes, methods and technologies," said Gert-Jan de Vreede, ICS director and a professor of information systems and quantitative analysis. "We have been able to launch initiatives for research, community outreach and education in the field of collaboration science—all of which help position the University of Nebraska as a national and international academic leader in this newly-emerging field."

Roni Reiter-Palmon, the institute's director of research, said the grant has enabled them to "transform a vision into a going concern."

"We have incorporated all relevant disciplines to examine the science of collaboration, and our members represent decades of research, teaching and outreach experiences," said the professor of industrial-organization psychology. "We also have rich representation from a wide range of fields, including finance, defense, R&D, software engineering, logistics and project management."

In the short time the institute has been operating, it has opened offices on both the north and south UNO campuses, created a cross-disciplinary research team and developed a collaboration science lecture series. It is also developing an academic course on collaboration, designing a mobile laboratory to facilitate research and education and has involved faculty from six colleges to create connections among theoretical and applied research.

Science and Mathematics Learning Center

The Science and Mathematics Learning Center received a $110,000 grant. The center is a new program led by the UNO College of Arts and Sciences to serve students through science and math tutoring, specialized instruction and courses, and assessment of the effectiveness of general education in science.

"This center is vital for providing enhanced learning opportunities in science and math for all students," said Jack Heidel, chair of the Department of Mathematics. "The grant enabled us to start immediately in preparing a proper physical location for the center on the first floor of the Durham Science Center building."

The College of Arts and Sciences has created a faculty committee from various science departments to begin planning the physical center as well as plans for how the new center will function and carry out its important mandate, said Heidel.

The center will also work closely with an established program led by UNO and Metropolitan Community College to increase the number of college-level graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (collectively known as STEM areas). The program, known as STEP (STEM Talent Expansion Program), is made possible through a five-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Ten grants awarded

The University of Nebraska Foundation's grants committee awarded 10 grants, including the UNO grants, across the university totaling $1.05 million for 2006-2007. Much of the annual grant resources are made available from unrestricted donations to the foundation.

"We are very gratified with the enthusiastic responses from each of the campuses to our request for proposals," said Grants Committee Chair Veronica Haggart, a University of Nebraska graduate and St. Paul, Neb., native. "It is always rewarding to see how the boost to the programs selected for funding enables the university to further enhance the lives of so many people both on and off the campus."

In March, grant applications were submitted to James B. Milliken, president of the University of Nebraska, from each campus chancellor, who were instructed that grant proposals must be tied to campus priorities and the university-wide strategic framework. It was then the job of the foundation grants committee – a group of 13 – to make final recommendations to the foundation's board of directors in June.

The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 70 years. More than $77 million was provided last year for students, faculty, academic programs, research and building and campus capital improvements. More information is available at www.nufoundation.org.

Fore more information, call (402) 458-1142.

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