U.Va.’s ‘Big Data’ Initiative One of 16 Projects Receiving Alumni Association Jefferson Trust Grants on Friday

woman carrying the Head of a sculpture

One of the "creatures" from the Stan Winston Arts Festival of the Moving Creature coomes forward to receive the festival's $15,000 Jefferson Trust grant.

Support to develop University of Virginia students for leadership in data-intensive research and innovation, part of U.Va.’s Big Data Initiative, is one of 16 projects to receive funding from the University of Virginia Alumni Association’s Jefferson Trust.

A public presentation of the eighth annual Jefferson Trust grants will be held Friday at 4 p.m. on the south steps of the Rotunda. Peter Grant and Wayne Cozart of the Alumni Association, and Noreen Poulson, chair of The Jefferson Trust, will give remarks.

Poulson will present the plaques to the grant recipients, one of which is a workshop to research, design and construct “creatures” for Saturday’s Stan Winston Festival of the Moving Creature. One of the creatures will accept the plaque for that grant at Friday’s presentation.

Other Jefferson Trust grants will fund or are funding: phase I of the pan-University Social Entrepreneurship Initiative; an OpenGrounds initiative for students and faculty focused on the arts and environmental action; and a permanent online archive and virtual museum commemorating Corks and Curls, the University’s now-defunct yearbook. A complete list of 2012-13 Jefferson Trust Grants is below and online.

Established in 2004 by the U.Va. Alumni Association, the Jefferson Trust is an unrestricted endowment that distributes funds annually through a Universitywide grant program. The trust supports 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.

“The Jefferson Trust is a concept that is gaining interest among state universities that are trying to deal with a limited amount of seed money to start new ventures,” said Cozart, the trust’s executive director. “The Jefferson Trust has given out nearly $3.5 million to almost 90 different projects of the University since its inception.”

The grant amounts have ranged from $2,500 to $150,000. Over the years, the grants have supported everything from helping fund the interdisciplinary work of U.Va. faculty and students trying to improve the quality of drinking water in rural South Africa, to supporting an initiative to digitize and analyze a collection of historic resources for U.Va.’s School of Nursing.

This year, the trustees – led by grant committee chair Sharon Owlett, a 1975 graduate of the School of Law – carefully reviewed 40 grant applications.

Grants from the Jefferson Trust are announced each year on or around the University’s Founder’s Day observance.

The 2012-13 grant recipients, who received a total of $670,643, are as follows:

• Emilie Charmy, international loan exhibition (Matthew Affron, The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia), $27,000.

The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia is organizing the first U.S. retrospective of the work of Frenchman Émilie Charmy (1878–1974), including works from the museum’s collection. This exhibition proposes to rediscover the art of Charmy, one of the most original female voices of modern art in Paris during the first half of the 20th century. To accompany the exhibition, the museum will publish a scholarly book on the artist’s practice and its place in the history of modern art with contributions by three U.Va. faculty members.

• Corks and Curls Legacy Project (Coy Barefoot), $65,000.

This project will produce a permanent online archive and virtual museum commemorating Corks and Curls, the University’s student annual. First published in 1888, the yearbook was an established feature of the Virginia experience, documenting numerous aspects of student life until it ceased publication in 2008 – marking an illustrious 119-year run. The project’s primary deliverable will be an online museum, a no-fee website where virtual copies of every edition will be archived. These archives will include video accounts from alumni of the time, an essay on the historical context of each issue, and even a keyword search function creating an online searchable database of information.

• Professional Protocols: Bridging the Gap for Underserved Populations Entering the Professional Marketplace (Laurie Casteen, Dean of Students Office), $13,050.

The goal of this project is to provide targeted student populations with necessary professional customs/protocols to prepare them effectively for their professional job search process and for future social gatherings with clients and colleagues. The proposed program will serve as the culmination of a semester during which the targeted students will be directed to a broad range of career workshops offered by University Career Services. Career Peer Educators from Career Services will also be invited to deliver an overview of the office’s electronic and human resources.

• Multispectral Imaging of Jefferson Manuscripts (Christina Deane, University Library), $25,000.

Funding for this project will allow the University Library to begin exploring multispectral imaging, opening new avenues of research to scholars with a modest investment of funds. Multispectral scanning is extremely useful in making obscured writings visible on palimpsests, severely damaged manuscripts and documents that are barely legible, allowing scholars and students to make discoveries that were previously impossible. Multispectral imaging reveals details that are invisible in white light by using multiple single wavelength scans to capture details from documents. The proposed project will digitize materials from the Thomas Jefferson collection with crossed out words and phrases. The Jefferson materials are just the beginning of the process, and this multispectral scanner is the entry point for the University to begin expanding digital imaging services to scholars.

Darden Prisoner Re-entry Education Initiative (Gregory Fairchild, Darden School of Business), $48,000.

A Prisoner Entrepreneurship Program has been established serving inmates at Dillwyn Correctional Facility based on a certificate in entrepreneurship, developed by the Tayloe Murphy Center and offered by the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Using Socratic method instruction, this program engaged selected inmates in learning the skills and tools needed for business startups through problem-based case studies and business planning. Serving both Dillwyn and Fluvanna County, 12 current MBA students have been recruited to serve as volunteer instructors, and a non-profit organization, Resilience Education, is being established to support the continuation and expansion of this work. The funds will be used to support the training and development of a cadre of volunteer instructors in case-based teaching.

• Rewriting the Eighteenth Centuries: An Interdisciplinary Symposium (David Gies, Spanish Department), $5,923.

The funding provided for the organization of a major interdisciplinary symposium, “Rewriting the Eighteenth Centuries,” held in early March at the University and at The International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. This project brought together local and national scholars and students to discuss and analyze, from a multi-disciplinary and international perspective, fundamental issues concerning what has been called the Enlightened Century. (An article on the conference is here.)  

• Stan Winston Arts Festival of the Moving Creature (Melissa Goldman), $15,000.

This interdisciplinary research engages students from the School of Architecture and from the College of Arts & Sciences’ departments of studio art and drama in a collaborative workshop to research, design and construct “creatures” that will come to life for Saturday’s Stan Winston Festival of the Moving Creature. Winston was one of U.Va.’s most successful arts alumni, becoming one of Hollywood’s greatest masters of creature design and fabrication. This project honors his legacy by engaging 70-plus students during the spring, building four to seven full-scale, perhaps even larger-than-life, creatures.

• Thornton Stacks Renovation Project (Engineering Student Council), $50,000.

Thornton Stacks was once the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s library, hence its fondly given name “Stacks.” It is currently a large room filled with tables that once held more than 100 computers. Engineering Student Council worked with the school’s administration to ensure that the room would remain a designated student study space and designed The Thornton Stacks Renovation Project. The space will serve as a location for collaboration and innovation in the Engineering School, where students of any year and major can learn from one another and work cohesively. The space will foster interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation – two fundamental aspects to forming the Jeffersonian engineer that the University prides itself on creating.

Pan-University Social Entrepreneurship Initiative (Howard Hoege, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy), $90,000.

Phase I aims to offer the full range of coursework, programming and activities related to social entrepreneurship at the University to all students, regardless of school affiliation. The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy is best understood as being the logistical lead in support of this pan-University effort. A primary component of this project is a draft business plan aimed at guiding the long-term institutionalization of social entrepreneurship education and programming at the Batten School and across the broader University.

• Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature and Leadership (Andrew Kaufman, Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures), $50,000.

This is believed to be the only program in the U.S. that brings college students and incarcerated youth together in a community of learning that realizes the power of literature to inform, transform and build connections between people from widely diverse backgrounds. U.Va. students who participate in this project perform a real-world task: leading incarcerated youth in discussions and creative activities related to great works of Russian literature. Contact with incarcerated youth deepens students’ understanding of issues in juvenile justice, provides a vehicle for them to apply literary analysis in a real-world setting and allows them to grow as teachers and facilitators. For residents, the program fosters academic, social and personal growth and aims to help reintegrate these youth into society as productive citizens.

• Conservation Analytical Microscope (Mark Kutney, Office of the University Architect), $45,570.

This program involves the acquisition and use of an analytical research microscope and image-processing equipment to be used in the study and treatment of historic cultural works in the University’s collection. While the primary focus will be to use this tool in the analysis of architectural paint and building materials, this equipment and investigator will periodically be available to other University organizations or departments, including The Fralin and Kluge-Ruhe museums, the University Library and those involved in University-related archaeology.

Art and Environmental Action/Open Grounds Challenge 2013 (Bill Sherman, Open Grounds), $58,000.

OpenGrounds will be launching an initiative for students and faculty focused on the arts and environmental action. As a key piece of this initiative, The Fralin Museum of Art, will feature an exhibit of Ansel Adams photographs in the upstairs galleries of the museum from mid-May through mid-October. In addition to this exhibit, the Arts and Environmental Action Initiative will include:

  • A symposium, bringing together U.Va. art historians and external scholars to speak about Adams’ place in the history of photography, the role of both science and art in his photographic technique, and the impact of photography on nature conservation;
  • An exhibit featuring six contemporary photography artists to accompany the Adams show;

•     A photography challenge that utilizes an interactive online submission platform;

•     The pilot of the OpenGrounds Student Scholars program, identifying three exceptional students to work with faculty to explore ideas and research around the role of the arts in environmental action.

• Developing Students for Leadership in Data-Intensive Research and Innovation (President Teresa A. Sullivan), $100,000.

This proposal brings graduate and undergraduate students together in interdisciplinary teams to catalyze new research collaborations, identify curricular needs in big data and formulate requirements for a certificate in big data. The rationale is to place both graduate and undergraduate students into a leadership position by defining, experientially, what new courses and curricula would be most useful for certificates or majors in big data. The mandated, cross-disciplinary, collaborative experience would expose the students to the diversity of the big-data landscape that characterizes U.Va. and therefore inform more meaningful decisions. The goal is to create a new certificate program that certifies that students have a comprehensive knowledge of dealing with large amounts of data.

• Creative Listening at the Academical Village (Karen Van Lengen, School of Architecture), $25,600.

This proposal offers a cross-disciplinary course between the School of Architecture and the McIntire Department of Music in the College of Arts & Sciences that brings creative awareness to this current cultural condition. The course will address the following themes:

  • The act of listening and engaging with the sounds and communicative opportunities of our public realm;
  • The development of new tools for listening, mapping and recording important public spaces, primarily using the Academical Village as a testing ground;
  • The interpretive aspects will include drawings and digital models of the recorded sounds.
  • The analytical aspects will include various types of spectrograms and other related tools that help students comprehend the data
  • The development of new soundscapes that are derived from the actual recordings and that reinforce the cultural ethos of the Academical Village.

The final projects of the course will be made by the collaborative partnerships between students of different disciplinary backgrounds. Their projects will creatively demonstrate the rich aural environment of the Academical Village as a counterpoint to the well-known visual studies already familiar to the general public. 

The New Learning Initiative (Meredith Woo, Dean of Arts & Sciences), $50,000.

The College has embarked on a targeted initiative to raise seed funds to allow for an immediate pilot initiative to complete the substantial redesign of a minimum of five to 10 courses during the 2013 calendar year. The key outcomes from the first stage of the project will be prototypes to be ready for enrollment starting this fall. During the pilot, instructional design teams comprising professors, graduate students, technical staff and undergraduate students will work independently to experiment with alternative methods to find the most effective designs for teaching using technology.  

  U.Va. Speaks (Adair Ziegler, student), $2,500.

The goal of this project is to create an online archive of past and current speakers at U.Va.  This public works project will promote the ideals Jefferson started long ago, with the Academical Village as a place encouraging pursuit of learning and interaction among representatives of a wide variety of fields. Through uvaspeaks.com, a comprehensive and ongoing list of all speakers, organized both chronologically and by topic, will be compiled. The engagement and motivation of students to work on the project will allow for U.Va. Speaks to grow to become a valuable online resource for years to come.

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