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Released February 25, 2004

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG -- Already an expert in her field of study, Vicky Elliot further enhanced her career plans in academia after completing a grant-writing course at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Elliot, a New Mexico native working on her doctorate in nutrition and food systems at Southern Miss, took the class last year from Dr. Jerome Kolbo, a professor in the university's School of Social Work. With the skills she gained from the class, Elliot secured grant funding for her doctoral research, which included examining ways to improve health and nutrition within a school community.

The course helped Elliot realize the opportunities available for securing funding and the steps necessary to compete for grants - and the necessity of such skills for higher education faculty.

"I've found that as I enter into academia, it's a requirement (to know how to apply for a grant)," Elliot said. "It's a critical component of academic success."

Kolbo said the grant-writing class presents basic principles of successful proposal development and design. The course is offered in a one-week format in the intercession period between semesters. By the end of the week, students submit a one- to two-page concept paper. Class participants are also required to critique a grant proposal and submit a viable grant proposal.

Two graduate social work students, Rhonda Sanders from Picayune and Jerri Adams from Yazoo City, recently had their grant proposal for placing technology in the classroom funded for over $61,000 by the Department of Health and Human Services' Head Start Bureau. As a result, the Picayune Early Head Start program now has computers in each of the six classrooms, a new computer lab, and a wide array of equipment for parents in their neighborhood to use onsite or at home.

"Each year, one or two of the submitted grants from the students in the class are funded," Kolbo said, noting that Elliot's proposal was one of the most recent submissions to receive funding. She spoke to students in the last class recently about her experience in writing a grant and securing funding.

"One of the best parts of the class is the guest speakers (like Elliot), who share their experiences and ideas on how to be successful in grant writing," Kolbo said.

Grant funding has become even more crucial as public funding for higher education and other public service programs declines, Kolbo said.

"The ability to secure external funding has become increasingly important in light of decreasing public dollars, no matter if you are an academic or a practitioner providing services in the community," Kolbo said.

Dr. Cecil Burge, Southern Miss associate vice president for research and technology transfer, said the ability to secure external funding gives university faculty opportunities to advance their research and better serve their students.

"Everyone has to be an entrepreneur to acquire the resources to run their programs, so I believe this is an essential course for anyone contemplating moving into academics," he said.

John David Johnson, a doctoral student in the Southern Miss School of Human Performance and Recreation from Prattville, Ala., said the course showed him how to find external funding sources and learn the nuances of securing grants.

"It's not just about filling out paperwork," Johnson said. "It's about contacting people (who are part of the award process) and getting a feel for the process of pursuing a grant."

The course will be offered again May 17-21. For more information, contact Kolbo at (601) 266-5913 or by e-mail at



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March 4, 2004 12:54 PM