Faculty at the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study have made adjustments this year to the deadlines at which students can apply to receive Richter funding, adding a spring deadline for projects to be completed within the academic year and a second deadline for applications for summer projects. The original deadline for grants for projects taking place this summer was April 4, but after the review process the Center still had money left over, so they created a second deadline for May 7.
Mariangela Maguire, the Interim Director for the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study, said that for the April 4 deadline there were 30 applications submitted for Summer Richter Grants, 24 of which were funded. After this review process, there were still additional funds, so the later deadline was added.
“In the past it was done on a first come, first served basis, so if you knew what you were doing in September you could get funding, and if you didn’t know until April you could be out of luck because we could be out of money – that’s what happened last year. And that was troubling to people because it just didn’t seem fair,” Maguire said. “So we decided that we would have one deadline for all summer projects and that was April 4. That worked really well, we got a lot of excellent applications and we didn’t spend all the money. … That’s why we put out the May 7 deadline.”
Maguire said that the Center also added an April 30 deadline for projects that would be completed within the academic year. She said that she had assumed that students would know whether or not they would need funding prior to the beginning of spring term, but realized that a spring deadline was necessary to accommodate all students.
“We thought that most students Ñ if you do Honors and you need money – you’ve applied honestly by January. If you are doing senior or independent research, it was our perception that you would be ready to go probably by the end of the winter term, so we were wrong,” she said.
Prior to the April 30 deadline, the Vovis Center received 98 applications for academic year Richter grants, 87 of which were approved.
Senior Gabe Moreno was one of the recipients of Richter funding this academic year. He used his grant mainly to purchase art supplies for projects in his Open Studio course for his Studio Art major. He said that being able to create without financial worries was extremely valuable for him.
“It’s really kind of necessary to have that money to let the ideas drive the work instead of financial restraints,” he said.
Moreno said that without Richter funding, he might have ended up doing a different project because he would have been more financially restrained.
“I think I would have ended up doing something slightly different, more economical. My project that I did this winter was definitely the most ambitious and educational thing I’ve ever done in the studio. … Maybe I would have found a way to do that out of pocket, but it really helped me to dream up something bigger than normal because I had the economic means.”
Senior Luke Madson has received several Richter grants throughout his time at Knox, largely to attend conferences and give presentations. He said that he sees no major shortfalls in the process for receiving Richter funding.
“It’s all there,” he said. “I need money for ‘X’ and then you have to submit a budget. … I don’t know of anyone who’s been upset with Richter.”
Madson advised that students interested in receiving Richter funding talk to the Vovis Center to discuss their ideas and to try to involve a professor before applying for the grant.
“Talk to the people first and get a professor on board. Your funding generally will not fall through if that is the case.”
Moreno said that because of Knox’s small size he has been able to work with the Vovis Center through the application process, and that this experience has helped to prepare him for applying for future grants.
“Even though there are some parts of the application that aren’t as clear, Knox is small enough and intimate enough that I can just walk into the office and say, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’… It’s been good to have experience going through that process because I hope to apply and receive grants after school for work. So having kind of a template or prior experience in applying for this stuff has been really good for me,” he said.
Madson noted that though he’s grateful for financial support from programs like Richter, he believes students in the same situation are driven enough to find ways to do their projects without the support of the college.
“I think nine out of 10 of those students would make that happen regardless of whether the college was involved or not. … The people who have gotten multiple of these types of awards are mostly self-motivated, self-studiers who want to do independent research,” he said.
Maguire said that she has received several applications already from students applying for the added May 7 summer deadline for Richter grants, and knows that more are coming.
“We probably have 3 applications at this point, but students being human, I don’t expect to see a lot of applications until next week and I don’t know how many we’ll get, it’s hard to say,” she said. “I’ve had questions and emails from students, so I know we’ll get more than we have right now.”