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Grant to help fight Indiana ‘brain drain’

Lauren O'Brien | Friday, January 30, 2004

Saint Mary’s College was awarded a $750,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment’s “Initiative to Promote Opportunity through Educational Collaborations” to help fight the phenomenon known as “brain drain” within Indiana.Lilly Endowment will donate a total of $38.9 million to 36 Indiana colleges and universities in an effort to diminish the number of students who leave the state upon graduation to work.At Saint Mary’s, a group of ten faculty members contributed to the College’s grant proposal, with the leadership of Ed Ackerly, director of corporate and foundation relations. “The focus of the grant is that Lilly wants to address the problem of the low number of residents in Indiana who have a college degree,” Ackerly said. “They want to change that because it affects the state in terms of salary and tax base.”Through the proposal, Saint Mary’s will raise awareness of internship and career opportunities in Indiana. To make such prospects more attractive, students and faculty who pursue internships, fellowships or experiential learning within the state can apply to receive part of the grant.Five grants are expected to be available for this summer, with plans to offer ten in subsequent summers. The proposal focuses primarily on summer experiences in order to defray inherent expenses that may discourage students.”We don’t want students to have to choose between an exciting internship possibility and a summer paying job that is not moving their career forward,” said Patrick White, vice president and dean of faculty.Another aspect of the program is the post-baccalaureate grant for graduates who decide to stay in or return to Indiana. The College would contribute up to $12,000 to the first year salary at an organization such as a small company or a non-profit that would otherwise be unable to sufficiently compensate the individual.The first step of the program is to hire a director, who will then determine the process through which Saint Mary’s will administer summer grants to students and faculty.The $750,000 grant will be spread out over five years, with a built-in evaluation process of the program and the overall career development services agenda.”Saint Mary’s is committed to being a national college, but we want to make students aware of the opportunities in Indiana,” White said.