This is an archived article.

June 24, 2004

Innovative programs win support from fund: Total of $1.2 million goes to 11 projects from a variety of units

News and Information

Innovative programs ranging from English language classes for UW employees to an interdisciplinary degree program in humanitarian relief received support from the Fund for Innovation and Redesign.

The Provost’s Office received 83 proposals and allocated a total of $1.2 million from the fund, which was created to encourage new ways of doing things.

“This University has been described as a culture of possibilities,” said Acting Provost David Thorud. “Especially in difficult budget times, it’s important for us to nurture this element of University culture.”

A total of 11 projects were approved for temporary money. The only unifying theme among the projects was that they were all ideas worthy of testing, according to Thorud. The projects, most of which received less than $100,000, were funded for a two-year period.

“We expect that some of these projects will succeed, and that others will not, which is perfectly OK,” Thorud said. “We will gather information from both, and set the stage for more experiments.”

“These are very ambitious projects,” added Susan Jeffords, vice provost for academic planning. “We shouldn’t be afraid of failure. We want to share not only our successes but also to learn from things that don’t work, where the impediments to good ideas lie.”

Among the projects is the expansion of a pilot program for providing English skills classes during work time for UW employees for whom English is a second language. The classes will involve training in both oral and written skills. they have proven highly successful in helping prepare employees for career advancement. Increasingly, communication skills as applied to the use of a computer are becoming essential for nearly all University employees.

A project involving a variety of units and campuses has the goal of delivering more digital images to more individuals for teaching and other academic uses. By working together, the groups can make more cost-effective purchases of image libraries and the hardware necessary for making the images accessible.

The Departments of Psychology, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, are joining together to create a Collaborative Center for the Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Anxiety Disorders. Anxiety is a common mental health issue with good, effective treatments available. However systematic training in the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety is not a current part of the curriculum available either to physicians or psychologists. This project will increase training capacity and also fund basic research to improve outcomes. It also will permit greater dissemination of research results to the community of practitioners.

Only 40 percent of UW freshmen ever take a course that is focused on diversity. But the creation of a diversity minor is expected to change this. In its initial stages, the project will involve the creation of three new foundational courses plus the revision of an additional four courses. One common outcome from the classes should be that students understand at least one category of difference in depth, how those differences interact with other kinds of differences and how those affect individuals. In all, the project is expected to result in at least 575 new seats a year for students not currently enrolled in diversity courses.

Planning also will begin on a Diversity Research Institute with funds from an innovation grant. Among the initial steps are: an inventory of current institutional research on aspects of diversity; creation of a forum for faculty of many disciplines to discuss current trends in research; preparation of a report that can guide future development of research emphases; and the development of a model for the institute. Already, the planning group has identified 23 faculty interested in working on the development of an institute.

In the health sciences schools, a grant will permit development and evaluation of an interprofessional health sciences certification examination. Increasingly, medical services are delivered by a team of professionals. This innovative program, which could well be the first of its kind in the nation, will certify practitioners in a common set of core skills: the ability to provide safe care, the ability to provide culturally competent care, and the ability to collaborate as part of a team. The program will start pilot projects in each health sciences school and will encourage dialogue among faculty across disciplines.

The first degree collaboration between engineering and public affairs will be to create an interdisciplinary program in humanitarian relief. Students who are interested in international development often end up working for organizations that must respond to natural and manmade emergencies. The Evans School of Public Affairs will be partnering with the departments of technical communication and industrial engineering to provide training for students at the intersection of logistics, information systems and nonprofit management.

The Graduate School is embarking on a project to improve admissions processes by providing ways of capturing all graduate admissions documents electronically. The ambitious project will need to be highly flexible, because the Graduate School works with about 100 programs. In addition to freeing up more time for individual review of graduate applications, the improvements should make the entire application process more welcoming and seamless for applicants.

The School of Law and School of Social Work plan to offer a joint Juris Doctor and master’s in social work. The program will involve seminars that are co-taught by faculty from the two schools, as well as collaborations on research and service. The program originators are hoping to attract students of color to the program by encouraging undergraduates to participate in mentoring programs for students in foster care, which should help impress upon them the societal need for professionals trained in both social work and aspects of the law that relate to child welfare.

Ten of the smaller schools and colleges are banding together to meet their common needs for computerized systems for tracking students. The central systems at the university function very well to meet the needs of the central administration, but are not designed to support the needs of various schools and colleges. Because these needs are diverse, the participants hope to create a system architecture that is flexible and adaptable to the needs of individual units.

Finally, UW Tacoma, will begin offering a Global Honors Program by creating three seminars and offering international experience during a student’s senior year. This will be the campus’ first opportunity to serve potential honors students with a series of new core courses that are both interdisciplinary and international.


Here are the projects and those involved:



  • Campus-Wide Global Honors Program at UW Tacoma — William Richardson, director, UWT Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.



  • Interdisciplinary Program in Humanitarian Relief — Mary Lidstrom, associate dean for new initiatives, College of Engineering; William Zumeta, associate dean, Evans School of Public Affairs; Steve Arnold, associate affiliate professor, Evans School; Mark Haselkorn, professor, technical communication; Benita Beamon, assistant professor, industrial engineering; Elaine Chang, assistant dean, Evans School; Chris Coward, director, Center for Internet Studies.



  • Interprofessional Health Sciences Certification Examination — Pamela Mitchell, associate dean, School of Nursing; Lynne Robins, associate professor, medical education and biomedical informatics; Basia Belza, associate professor, biobehavioral nursing and health systems; Douglas Brock, assistant professor, medical education and biomedical informatics; Thomas Gallagher, assistant professor, medicine; Debbie Kartin, assistant professor, medicine, Taryn Lindhorst, assistant professor, social work; Thomas Morton, professor, dentistry; Peggy Odegard, senior lecturer, pharmacy; Douglas Schaad, associate professor and divisional head, medical education and biomedical informatics.



  • Digital Image Group — Joyce Ogburn, associate director of libraries; Denise Hattwig, curator of visual resources, UWB; Tim Jewell, head of collection management services, UW Libraries; Ann Lally, head of digital initiatives, UW Libraries; Jeanette Mills, director of visual services, School of Art; Heather Seneff, director of visual resources, College of Architecture and Urban Planning; Julie Nicoletta, associate professor, interdisciplinary arts and sciences, UWT.



  • Foundational Courses for the Diversity Minor — Betty Schmitz, director, Curriculum Transformation Project; Rick Bonus, associate professor, American ethnic studies; Paul LePore, assistant dean, College of Arts and Sciences.



  • Improving the Graduate Admissions Process — Joan Abe, director, graduate admissions; John Drew, director, computing and information, the Graduate School.



  • Collaborative Center for the Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Anxiety Disorders—Lori Zoellner, professor, psychology, Corey Fagan senior lecturer, psychology; Robert Kohlenberg, associate professor, psychology; Peter Roy-Byrne, professor and vice chair, psychiatry and behavioral sciences; Craig Sawchuk, acting assistant professor, psychiatry and behavioral sciences.



  • Information Technology Resource Sharing Group — Bruce Bare, dean, College of Forest Resources; Michael Eisenberg, dean, Information School; Dorothy Van Soest, dean, School of Social Work, as well as personnel from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, College of Education, Evans School of Public Affairs, the Graduate School, School of Dentistry, School of Law, School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy, and Educational Outreach.



  • Diversity Research Institute — Rusty Barcelo, vice president and vice provost, office of minority affairs; Gerald Baldasty, professor and chair, communication; Johnnella Butler, professor, American ethnic studies; Denice Denton, dean, College of Engineering; Gail Dubrow, professor, urban design and planning; Sheila Edwards, assistant director, Center for Workforce Development; Biren Nagda, associate professor, social work; Emile Pitre, assistant vice president, office of minority affairs; Betty Schmitz, director, Curriculum Transformation Project; Don Wulff, director, Center for Instructional Development and Research.



  • JS/MSW Joint Degree — Margaret Spearmon, associate dean, School of Social Work; Lisa Kelly, director, Child Advocacy Clinic, School of Law.



  • English Skills Classes for UW Employees — Ruth Johnston, associate controller, financial management; Vennie Gore, associate director, Housing and Food Services; Karen Long, director, Payables Administration, Alison Stevens, assistant director, Specialized International Outreach Programs, Educational Outreach; Elizabeth Warick, director, Training and Development.