June 6, 2016

Whitney N. Yarber, Communications Specialist

VSU Announces 2016-2017 Project Innovate Grant Recipients

VALDOSTA – Valdosta State University is investing in 24 innovative practices, programs, and approaches to improve the teaching, services, and support of its students with a new Fiscal Year 2017 Innovation Fund.

In the Fall of 2015, VSU announced the formation of a new Innovation Fund through which the university would further address recruitment, student success, retention, and graduation rates. Planning to invest in the future of Valdosta State University by supporting innovative practices, programs, and approaches, members of the Project Innovate pre-planning team began developing guidelines for these institutionally-funded Innovation Grants.

The Innovative Designs for Enhancing the Academy (IDEA) Center also began hosting Café Innovation discussion sessions and served as one of the venues for faculty and staff to gather and discuss their ideas for transforming the VSU campus community in ways that directly support and encourage student success, all while making the campus more inviting and appealing to new students and more attractive and engaging for current students.

The Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Innovation Grant proposals were anonymously and independently scored by the 20 faculty and staff peers who served on the FY17 Innovation Grants Applications Rating Committee and support the first goal of VSU’s Strategic Plan and its two objectives:

Recruit, Retain, and Graduate a Quality, Diverse Student Population and Prepare Students for Roles as Leaders in a Global Society.

1.1: Actively pursue VSU’s Complete College Georgia Plan (CCG).

1.2: Promote educational excellence in all learning environments through academic, professional, and social opportunities.

“The 24 grant proposals selected for funding were the most highly rated among 49 outstanding submissions,” said Dr. Anthony Scheffler, chairman of the FY17 VSU Innovation Grants Committee and interim associate vice president of Academic Affairs. “The selected proposals operationalize and test curricular and organizational innovations specifically designed to positively affect some important aspect of student enrollment, achievement, or retention.”

The broad categories and recommended projects selected are:

Enhanced Campus, Community, and Educational Experiences

  • Programming to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking on Campus

Chelsea Holcombe, Office of Health Promotions

  • Paying it Forward: Enhancing American Sign Language (ASL) Skills in Pre-Service Teachers of the Deaf, ASL/English Interpreters, and Community Stakeholders

Dr. Jennifer Beal-Alvarez, Department of Middle Grades, Secondary, Reading, and Deaf Education

  • Center for Applied Social Sciences Partnership Grants

Dr. Luke Fowler, Department of Political Science

  • Collaboration Between Nursing and Spanish for Medical Professionals

Susan Michele Blankenship, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

  • Three-Dimensional Scanner for VSU Maker Space and Online Course Enhancement

Vincent King-Spezzo, Center for eLearning

  • The Big Pitch: A Problem-Solving Approach to the Application of Undergraduate Research

Dr. Thomas Manning, Department of Chemistry

  • MGED-STEM (Middle Grades Education Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning Experiences

Dr. Regina Suriel, Department of Middle Grades, Secondary, Reading, and Deaf Education

  • Standardized Patient Program

Dr. Melissa Porterfield, Theatre and Dance Area

  • Big Data Storage to Power Recruitment and Retention Solutions

Malynda Dorsey, Division of Information Technology

  • Enhancing Student Enrollment, Retention, and Satisfaction in Engineering and Other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Fields

Dr. Barry Hojjatie, Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences

  • Exploring Citizenship Through Politics: Summer Camp for Local Students

Dr. Neena Banerjee, Department of Political Science

  • Project CORE (Creating Opportunities for Research and Engagement) Pilot

Gardner Rogers, Department of English

  • Videos for Student Success and Retention

Dr. Christine James, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

  • Improving Pass Rates for Introductory Computer Science Courses through the Creation of Hands-On Closed Labs

Dr. Dave Gibson, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

  • Communication and Vital Screening Initiative

Dr. Ruth Hannibal, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

  • Online Undergraduate Psychology Degree

Dr. Jennifer Breneiser, Department of Psychology and Counseling

  • Joint Urban Planning and Management Program with a Chinese University

Dr. Jia Lu, Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences

  • Criminal Justice Outreach and Recruitment to Agencies

Dr. Bobbie Ticknor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice

Outreach to At-Risk Groups

  • Extended College Algebra Using SI-Led Learning Activities

Dr. Greg Harrell, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

  • ACES (Aspire, Connect, Encourage, and Succeed)

Dr. Theresa Grove, Department of Biology

  • Career Readiness for African American Males

Dr. Gerald Williams, Office of Career Opportunities 

Faculty and Administrative Development Opportunities

  • Professional Development for Best Practices in Online Courses

Meg Giddings, Center for eLearning

  • VSU Leadership Academy

Rebecca Murphy, Human Resources and Employee Development

  • Establishment of a Core Curriculum Faculty Status

Dr. Kathleen Lowney, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice

“We have an incredibly talented and creative faculty and staff at VSU,” said Dr. Brian L. Gerber, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Project Innovate has provided them an opportunity to channel their skills into funded projects that will impact the success of our students. I look forward to witnessing the positive and lasting change these projects will bring to the campus.”

The awarded funds will be available after July 1, which marks the beginning of the FY17 budget year.

Each project will be evaluated relative to the goals of the project at the end of the allotted Fiscal Year 2017 time frame.

“If funds are available, continued funding or the institutionalization of a project, in whole or part, will be considered based on its measured impact and its considered long term value to the university,” said Scheffler.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/academics/institutional-effectiveness/innovate/fy17-awards.php to learn more about each of the FY17 Innovation Grant projects.

Contact Dr. Anthony Scheffler at innovate@valdosta.edu for more information.

On the Web:




Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals: 

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Goal 5: Develop and enhance Valdosta State’s human and physical resources.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.