2019 Staff Innovation Challenge

2019 Staff Innovation Challenge

Thomas More University always welcomes new, innovative ideas that support the mission and goals of the institution while bolstering sustainability. In 2017, the President’s Faculty Innovation Grants were introduced as an investment into faculty driven research and projects (to see the winning grant projects from 2018 click here ). In February 2019, the TMU Staff Innovation Challenge was introduced. The challenge includes two parts with the Innovation Awards encouraging proposals that would be evaluated and potentially receive a grant (three would be awarded) to serve as an investment towards the resources required to complete the project. The second part, called Innovation Rewards, included a cash reward for innovations completed in the spring 2019 term with a presentation required in the last week of May.

Seven unique proposals were received and considered for the three Innovation Grants awarded. The key to win a grant was to submit an idea that was new to TMU, yet would serve the overall mission, and include an explanation of how the idea would make the University a better place. The project is to be completed by the end of the summer and the resulting improvement must be sustainable beyond that time frame. A final report on the outcome is expected by August 19 – details on these outcomes will be shared when available. The three winning proposals include:

  1. Engage More: Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence Learning Series: Submitted by Summer Spille, Charles Delp, Morgan Okello, and Angel Curry (with input from Professors Kim Havorkos, Luis Sierra, and Cate Sherron)
  2. Dedicated Space for Veterans – Saints Strong: Submitted by Michelle Vezina
  3. Living the Mission – Submitted by Milissa Larkins:

Thank you to Laura Koehl ’80, Ed.D., and Casey Guilfoyle ’81, J.D. (both on TMU’s Board of Trustees), Chris Powers, Ph.D. (vice president enrollment), Grady Jones (interim vice president institutional advancement), Cari Garriga, Ph.D. (acting provost), Kathleen Jagger, Ph.D. (former dean of academic affairs), and Laura Custer (director human resources) for serving as judges in determining the Innovation Grant awardees.

The Innovation Rewards was a little trickier because of the quick turn around required to qualify for the prizes and the requirement of a presentation (not everyone is comfortable with show and tell!). Two excellent presentations were made in May with the first place Reward going to the team of John Ernst, Robin Norton, Heather Abbott, Samantha Palmer (Thomas More Success Center personnel), Justin Vogel, Lam Pham and Tony Otten (Admissions staff personnel). Their presentation was centered on the Cleves Scholars Program. Second place was awarded to Mark Messingschlager for his work on the auto-packaging of financial aid for TAP students (Thomas More Accelerated Programs). To learn more about the Reward Presentations, click here.

It is not yet known if the Staff Innovation Awards and Rewards will continue into the future. This program promotes thinking outside of the normal work day parameters and serves the purpose of encouraging staff to take action when they see the opportunity to implement their ideas in order to benefit the University in the short and long term. A good idea is a good idea and this is a wonderful forum to get everyone involved and working collaboratively. Congratulations to those who submitted proposals and look for updates towards the end of the summer on the grant winning proposals.