The University Record, August 13, 1996

Kellogg gives $5 million to School of Information

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Students, faculty and community organizations across the United States will benefit from a new $5 million grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to the School of Information. The four-year grant will allow the School to build an educational model for practical learning and service that will directly benefit non-profit community organizations and agencies.

With a long history of assisting community organizations, the School looks forward to doing even more, says Daniel E. Atkins, the School's dean. "A steadily growing stream of inquiries from organizations requesting help makes it clear that the need is huge. This should not surprise us. Information is the life blood of most community organizations. Professional help for community organizations in the design, creation, dissemination and use of information resources can have profound value in aiding communities to become better fed, healthier, better housed and better informed."

All the projects the School undertakes will further its teaching and research role while benefiting each community directly, Atkins notes. Projects could include creating a publicly accessible online system for maintaining city council minutes and other records; analyzing computer training needs of a countywide consortium of small, non-profit organizations; training community librarians to provide citizens with online data via the WorldWide Web; and deploying and evaluating digital library technologies in middle schools, high schools and public libraries. Such technology initiatives would support new "inquiry based" approaches to education, science and the arts, and to general public literacy in science and cultural heritage.

The grant will allow the School to co-invest with client organizations. Of the total $5 million, $2 million is designated for a one-to-one challenge grant to other foundations, corporations and individuals. When fully matched, the School will have a $4 million endowment for continuing support of practical engagement and outreach activities.

"Our aim is for each of our students to have meaningful experiences in applying their expertise to practice," Atkins says. "The organizations we most want to work with, especially organizations serving economically underdeveloped communities, have severely limited capacity to absorb such costs. Furthermore, community organizations often have limited visions of what is possible because they have not had the opportunity to see truly innovative solutions.

"The School is committed to a professional curriculum and to doctoral preparation that integrates classroom training, advanced technology and actual practice in real organizational settings," Atkins says. "This fundamental integration of practice and theory is unprecedented in both what we want to teach and how we want to teach it. It is what we want our professional students to embody and our doctoral students to propagate."