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Pittsburg State office of Academic Affairs offers grant writing seminars

The Pittsburg State University Office of Academic Affairs presented grant writing seminars to faculty, staff, and graduate students, Tuesday, March 2, in the Jack Overman Student Center. The seminars introduced the essential elements of writing proposals and grants. 

Cindy Johnson, executive director of Academic Affairs Support at Pittsburg State University, said the purpose of the grant writing seminar was to not only to introduce the material, but also to discover who was interested in learning more about grant writing. 

“We had one in the morning and one in the afternoon to just get the interests going,” Johnson said. “We do have a lot of grant writers on our campus–faculty and staff who write grants. There’s a big contingency who would like to learn. So, this was a starting point. This is kind of our first step to growing our grants and research area.” 

The seminars were presented by Mike Bodensteiner, former executive director of the service center at Greenbush, Kansas.  

“Mike Bodensteiner was the executive director at Greenbush (outside) Girard for 30 plus years,” Johnson said. “So, he has got (a lot of experience). We tapped into him and his expertise to help us with this seminar, and he was willing to do it.” 

Johnson said Bodensteiner will come back to present more seminars and is willing to work one-on-one with anybody who is trying to get started or has a proposal. 

“We plan on having other grant writing seminars focusing on different things like finding funding, how do you write your proposal, budget development, those kinds of things,” Johnson said. “The Provost would like to see this area grown…and you know with our budgets being cut, securing grants for different aspects of the University is highly important.” 

Bodensteiner said grant writing has always been a central part of his career, so he was very pleased to work with the Provost and Johnson and learn what interested parties at Pitt State wanted and needed the most.  

“The way it all kind of came about is Howard Smith and Cindy Johnson and I met and talked about ways to (first,) help faculty, students, and staff be more effective at grant writing,” Bodensteiner said. “…and secondly, how can we encourage more collaboration among PSU folks (in different departments?)” 

Bodensteiner said that the overview given in an hour and half seminar is just the first step. 

“I think that was one of the keys to this workshop is to, first of all, assess the interests–and clearly from the participation there’s a lot of interest in grant writing,” Bodensteiner said. “And (then) how to improve programs and services. Also, to get some feedback from the participants of what would be helpful. We’re closely looking at the evaluations. The participants had some great ideas and comments about the things that would really help them in their grant writing. The next step will be for Howard, Cindy, and I to sit down and review  the critiques–both positive and the critical suggestions–and decide what would be what the next steps.” 

Stephanie Spitz, program coordinator of violence prevention and victim advocacy at PSU, said   

she was interested in the grant writing seminar because she looked forward to learning how to write grants effectively and successfully, as well as find some further resources of where to find grants, and who to reach out to in terms of review.  

“I’m not the most technical person in the world,” Spitz said. “So, finding someone who is is really beneficial for me. Further, I work in an area where budgets keep getting cut year after year. Finding some funding to provide victim advocacy services, programming, and things of that nature…would better improve students, faculty, staff and the entire community here. So, I just want to help out people.” 

The seminar’s attendees had varying levels of skills in grant writing. 

“I was mostly interested in coming because…my students will often go work for programs in the community where they are needing to write grants.” said Goldie Prelogar, professor of family and consumer sciences. “So, I wanted additional information so that I could help teach my students the same things.” 

Prelogar said she was interested in the ways to design grants which give feedback in each moment.  

“I was really interested in the data collection, follow up, and in the effectiveness evaluation of the grant,” Prelogar said. “I thought he did a pretty good job of going into some of that. Like designing into the grant…and building into the grant when you’re writing it how you will evaluate it along the way (to know) if its working or not.” 

Bodensteiner said he enjoyed the two groups that he worked with. 

“I think it reinforces kind of the enthusiasm you want to see in an organization,” Bodensteiner said. “And people want to get better, they have ideas, they want to reach out and work with others. I think that’s what certainly universities all about—bringing diverse ideas and backgrounds together and then finding a way to work together to improve the quality of instruction and services that are delivered to the community.” 

Bodensteiner said grant writing is incorporated into every discipline and field Pitt State students would get involved in.  

“I really believe that grant writing, and more generically just writing an effective proposal, really touches on absolutely every career and every major in every department,” Bodensteiner said. “If you really think about it, engineers are writing proposals, they’re preparing grants in their arena; certainly the social sciences and education are constantly developing proposals and grants because it really is the research and development arm of every field. Doing that is extremely important, and the ability to do it, and feeling comfortable in writing proposals and communicating ideas for program improvement is just absolutely vital.” 

Bodensteiner said that grant writing is both a skill set and kind of an art. 

“I think most of the grants that I’ve (seen) get funded are very cleanly written and they communicate what is going be done and how is it going benefit other people and institutions,” Bodenstener said. “The best way to say it is, it’s clean, it’s clear, it’s articulate, and it really inspires the reader to get behind an idea, beyond the data and the goals and the objectives. If there is a piece of emotion that can be communicated to the reader, that’s going to be an effective grant…that’s regardless of the field.” 

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