Jefferson Trust Grants to Support 12 Projects at the University of Virginia

April 20, 2011 — The sixth annual Jefferson Trust grants will help preserve and restore Edgar Allan Poe's student room at the University of Virginia and support a program to increase opportunities for students to engage with U.Va.'s most distinguished faculty, among other projects.

The trust awarded 12 grants totaling $470,000. Other grants will help fund an annotated digital edition of Thomas Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia," restoration of a historic exhibition gallery in Brooks Hall and student-led noncredit classes taught by professors.

"The money from the Jefferson Trust will help ensure that the Poe Room continues, through the life of one of the University's most famous and accomplished former students, to educate and inspire members of the University community and our thousands of annual visitors for many years to come," said Clark Herndon, president of the Raven Society.

Established in 2004 by the U.Va. Alumni Association, the Jefferson Trust is an unrestricted endowment that distributes funds annually through a University-wide grant program. The unrestricted nature of the endowment allows the trustees to pursue excellence across the entire University by supporting a variety of initiatives in programs that enhance teaching, scholarship and research; programs that allow faculty and students to work closely together while engaging in hands-on learning; and programs that allow the University community to reach out to other communities – locally, nationally and globally.

In its first six years – including this year – the Jefferson Trust has awarded more than $2.8 million for 62 projects. The grants have ranged from $5,000 to $150,000, and have averaged $31,000 per project.

The diverse projects have ranged from helping fund the interdisciplinary work of U.Va. faculty and students who are trying to improve the quality of drinking water in rural South Africa to enabling the Virginia Glee Club to recover and record traditional University songs.

This year, the trustees – led by grant committee chair Sharon Owlett, a 1975 graduate of the School of Law – carefully reviewed more than 42 grant applications.

Grants from the Jefferson Trust are announced each year on or around the University's Founder's Day observance, typically on the steps of the Rotunda. This year's 12 new grants – ranging from $8,000 and $80,000 – were announced April 15.

The 2011 grant recipients are as follows:

• Stefan Baessler, Department of Physics, College of Arts & Sciences
Construction of a mass spectrometer as an advanced undergraduate research topic and lab experiment. $50,000.

• Marva Barnett, founding director of the Teaching Resources Center
Academy of Distinguished Teachers – engaging master teachers to share their wisdom about designing and delivering great courses to newer, younger colleagues who wish to improve their teaching. $49,000.

• Richard Cohen, managing director of the U.Va. Asia Institute
Increasing understanding of the Middle East and South Asia at U.Va. and in the community of Charlottesville. $39,000.

• Hebah Fisher, fourth-year Arts & Sciences global development major
Changemaker Campus Initiative – build a culture of social entrepreneurship and help build a global standard for excellence in sustainability education. $55,000.

• Clark Herndon, president of the Raven Society
Poe Room Restoration – the renovation and restoration of Edgar Allan Poe's original room at No. 13 West Range. $15,500.

• Maurie McInnis, associate dean for undergraduate academic programs, College of Arts & Sciences
Pavilion Seminars – a new curricular initiative established to increase the opportunities for students to engage with U.Va.'s most distinguished faculty. $80,000.

• Brad Pasanek and John O'Brien, Department of English, College of Arts & Sciences
"Notes on the State of Virginia" Digital Edition – a digital variorum edition of Thomas Jefferson's seminal study of Virginia. $23,000.

• Laura Nelson, a political and social thought major in the College
Flash Seminars – bringing students and faculty together outside the formal classroom using new media to advertise the seminars. $8,000.

• Carolyn Pelnik, student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science
The Spectra: The Virginia Engineering and Science Research Journal – A new journal promoting student research in the Engineering School. $35,000.

• Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Department of Religion, the College
Virginia Center for the Study of Religion – bringing pioneering and multidisciplinary academic research on religion to the University and the general public. $50,000.

• Michael F. Suarez, director of the Rare Book School
A rare books scholarship program to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to participate in hands-on research in the Rare Book School. $40,000.

• David Wolcott and Jeffrey Blank, Office of the Vice President for Research
Enhancement of administrative and career support for postdoctoral scholars. $25,000.

Photos of the recipients are available here.

Media Contact

Wayne Cozart

Vice President for Alumni Engagement