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UMass President Announces $1.17 Million in Faculty Awards

BOSTON — Describing faculty research and scholarship as work that “distinguishes us as a university and is essential to our quest for a better and richer future,” UMass President Robert Caret announced the awarding of $1.17 million in grants to faculty members.

The awards will fund work ranging from a project that will see faculty members engage with industry partners in the development of a big-data research center in Amherst, to a project aimed at bringing local history to life for Lawrence school children.

Caret made the announcement as the board of trustees’ committee on academic and student affairs held its quarterly meeting in Boston. The grants are being made available via two programs established to spur research, scholarship, and outreach throughout the UMass system.

The President’s Science and Technology Initiative Fund this year is awarding $914,000 to support nine promising research projects. Including this year’s awards, this fund, created in 2004, has provided $11 million in funding for nearly 90 projects that have helped to accelerate research on all five UMass campuses. The UMass presidential funding has helped to attract more than $245 million in federal and private funding.

“Faculty research not only expands the boundaries of human understanding and supports the state’s innovation economy, it also enriches the academic experience of students who learn from professors undertaking cutting-edge work in their fields,” Caret said.

The President’s Creative Economy Initiatives Fund this year provides nearly $260,000 for nine projects aimed at enhancing the quality of life in communities across the Commonwealth. Including this year’s awards, the fund has, since 2007, distributed more than $2 million for 82 projects and has contributed to historical preservation, artisan cooperatives, music, theater, and many other projects.

“The defining characteristic of a research university is an engaged faculty that is constantly immersed in exploration, not only for its own sake, but also to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Marcellette Williams, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and International Relations. “These projects demonstrate the breadth of activity that occurs on the campuses of the UMass system and are indicative of the impact our faculty members have on the Commonwealth and the world.”

Trustee Alyce Lee, chair of the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs, said both programs support the trustees’ strategic priority of strengthening the university’s research enterprise and “contribute to the economic and social well-being of the Commonwealth.”

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