May 24, 2017

Thirteen faculty members had an opportunity to polish their grant writing skills during a weeklong writing retreat sponsored by the University Writing Center and the Office of Sponsored Programs. The retreat, which took place the week of May 15, included guest speakers, webinars, and scheduled time daily for focused writing. It was designed to help junior faculty members from across the University improve their technical and persuasive skills in writing grants.

“The goal is to give faculty members some space and time that they can block out of their schedule to do this intensive work on their projects,” said Kevin Rulo, director of the University Writing Center. “We also wanted to get them thinking about and practicing healthy writing habits like setting short and long-term goals.”

Winning grants to fund research is an important way that junior faculty members can grow and advance in their careers. Ralph Albano, associate provost for research, said the retreat was a valuable opportunity for faculty members to learn about effective grant-writing methods in a focused and fun environment.

“Putting them in a formal setting like this really gets them focused and helps them to understand what’s important as they’re writing,” he said. “These projects are very personal to them and they have to know how to be persuasive in their writing, which is something that many of them have never learned in their careers. Many of them haven’t gotten a lot of guidance on the writing side, as opposed to the science side.”

Retreat participant Sharon Ann O’Brien serves as the director for Catholics for Family Peace in the National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS). She said she learned a lot about grant writing during the week, including the importance of persistence and not taking rejection personally.

“I’ve learned there’s a whole science to writing a grant,” she said. “The speakers were great and I learned some tips that I’m already using.”

Biomedical engineering professor Chris Raub also participated in the retreat. He said he enjoyed working alongside junior faculty members from other departments and schools across the University, including NCSSS, psychology, biology, and others.

“It’s been interesting to get perspective from other faculty members, some of whom I know very well and others I’ve just met,” he said. “It’s great because in the break periods we can talk about where our challenges have been in grant writing and share ideas.”

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