By ULM College of Arts, Education, and Sciences
MONROE, La.— The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) have approved a grant proposal written by students in the English professional writing class of Patrick Morgan, Ph.D., at the University of Louisiana Monroe.
The grant was awarded to librarian and Coordinator of Collections Heather Pilcher and provides funding to digitize 50 years of ULM's historical student newspaper, which are housed in the ULM Library Special Collections & Archives.
The $2,200 LEH Rebirth Grant will allow the university archives to preserve students' writings from the founding of the university in 1931 to 1980. The student newspaper during this time was called The Pow Wow and records students' voices as they responded to campus life, cultural changes in Northeast Louisiana, and significant historical events, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor, the John F. Kennedy assassination, and the Civil Rights Movement.
Once digitized, the student newspaper will be available free to all at the Louisiana Digital Library. There will also be a public exhibit showcasing highlights from the student newspaper across the decades.
"I'm tremendously proud of my students' achievement," said Morgan, an assistant professor, who taught the English course on grant writing during the spring 2020 semester.
"On the first day of class," he explained, "I told the students that they were grant writing consultants, and librarian Heather Pilcher was their client."
ULM students participating in the project include Alfonzo Galvan, Mary Hillman, Clayton Bryan, Trinity Foucha, Rufus Dell McDowell II, Jenessa Taylor, and Sarah Treadway.
The students would regularly meet at the Special Collections & Archives, exploring the student newspaper's printed editions and asking questions about the library's needs.
"This was truly a collaborative experience," said Morgan. "Everyone wrote a section of the grant proposal and helped revise it as a whole."
The class members were in charge of coordinating with the library to identify the focus for the grant, and then locating funding sources, voting on which funding source they should pursue, and composing the proposal.
The idea of collaborating with the university archives began when Morgan attended a tour of the archives led by Pilcher.
"I could see her passion for preserving history, from the World War I letters of Thomas Gunby to medical instruments from the 19th century. I asked her at the end of the tour, 'if you had the money, what are your dream projects?'"
Digitizing ULM's history was at the top of her list.
"I'm very excited about getting the grant," said Pilcher, "because it will allow ULM to offer an additional online resource available to researchers and alumni."
The grant writing students were a joy to work with," she said.
They asked relevant questions and seemed very attentive to what my needs were," Pilcher added.
As for Morgan's students, they are using what they learned in his class to continue to help their community.
"I'm extremely grateful I took the grant class," said Hillman, who is currently teaching in the Monroe City School District. "Grants are so crucial to all levels of education."
Hillman plans on writing grants for her school and for an adult literacy project at a local shelter.
The ULM English Program offers a variety of professional writing courses ranging from scientific writing to professional editing.
"If you like using words to solve problems, build relationships, and make a difference in the world," said Morgan, "consider taking a professional writing course. Every student in my class can now add 'grant writing consultant' to their résumés, and that is a skill set they bring to any career path they choose to follow."
Funding for these grants has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and administered by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization.
The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this press release to not necessarily represent those of either the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.