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Women’s giving circle funds campus projects

Advancement Arts Faculty Dec 13, 2022
A black well house on a white background with the words Women of the Well House underneath
A black well house on a white background with the words Women of the Well House underneath

KOKOMO, Ind. — Students from a World War II literature class will visit the island that inspired one of the novels they read, thanks to an Indiana University Kokomo Women of the Well House grant.

The class –  led by Michelle Westervelt, senior lecturer in English and Sarah Heath, associate professor of history – will visit sites they’ve read about in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as part of a trip that will also include historic sites in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and England.

The excursion was one of eight projects led by faculty, staff, and students that received $27,200 in grants from the campus’s giving circle.

Cathy Clearwaters, director of development, said the Women of the Well House has given approximately $137,000 to programs since its inception in 2017, benefiting not only IU Kokomo, but the surrounding community.

“Having a philanthropy group allows us to combine our efforts and resources to make a greater impact on our campus and our community,” she said. “Many of the grant application projects involve our students, and this gets them into the mindset of wanting to significantly improve our community. Presenting their projects also gives them valuable real-world experience.”

Westervelt said the funding helps offset increased costs for the two-week World War II trip, so Guernsey, an island in the English Channel that was occupied by Germany during the war, could still be included. It will fund ferry transportation, a walking tour of novel locations, and a visit to the German occupation museum.

“This funding ensures students will have the full experience without the additional financial burden,” Westervelt said. “It was important to us to offer this trip in its entirety. With the current division in our world, antisemitism on the rise, our own democracy under attack, and the war in Ukraine raging on, it’s never been more important to share and understand the complexities and mistakes of our history with younger generations. But this trip also invites students to imagine the courage and strength it would take to survive such atrocities — opening their eyes to the humanity that often surfaces in our darkest hours.”

Kim Mossburg, senior lecturer in health science; Hisako Masuda, associate professor of biochemistry; and Christina Romero-Ivanova, assistant professor of education received funding for a phlebotomist to conduct blood draws before and after a clinical trial they plan.

“We hope to make a contribution to research in the area of disease prevention,” Mossburg said. “Our study is about the effects of a plant-based diet, along with curcumin and ginger supplements, on markers of inflammation and microbiome diversity.”

Additional programs receiving funding included:

  • Teaching Digital Storytelling to Education and Social Work Students at the University of Dundee, Scotland: A Continuing Collaboration – Romero-Ivanova applied for funding to continue a project that began in 2020. She will work with faculty and staff in Scotland to provide information about new technologies, and grow collaborations in research, writing, and publishing information to that campus and IU Kokomo. This program will also grow a future invitation for a University of Dundee faculty member to visit IU Kokomo as a guest lecturer in 2023.
  • Educator Wellness Communities – Cheryl Moore-Beyioku, lecturer in special education, and Leah Nellis, senior advisor for IU regional campus K-12 initiatives, received a grant to expand a current program designed to support the wellness and resilience of preservice educators and recent School of Education alumni through building community, mentoring, and supporting self-care.
  • Layperson Naloxone Trainer Program – Leigh Swartzendruber, clinical assistant professor of nursing, will use funding to expand an Overdose Lifeline Training course to include IU Kokomo students, faculty, and staff. Participants will learn to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose and administer the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone, or Narcan.
  • Support Staff Professional Development Day – Cynthia Lipken, administrative assistant in the School of Business, requested funding for a professional development day in March 2023, with a theme of work-life balance. It will be a day of re-energizing and building connections between members of the support staff and learning new skills which will help them in their work and personal lives.  
  • Sustainability In Business: Demark and Sweden Gloria Preece, assistant dean and assistant professor of personal financial planning and marketing; and Adam Smith, associate professor of management, received a grant for a new study abroad program in Denmark, incorporating the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students will identify one or more of the goals to address in a research project and will then travel to Denmark to learn to develop strategies needed to create measurable social impact through sustainable business practices.
  • Seeds and Saplings: Native Plants and Hydroponics at IUK – Andy Tuholski, director of the Office of Sustainability and assistant professor of political science, applied for funds to extend ongoing campus planting efforts, and add an indoor hydroponics garden system to provide educational and service-learning opportunities for students, and a steady supply of fresh herbs and produce for the Cougar Cupboard food pantry.

Membership in Women of the Well House is open to women who make a $1,000 per year commitment. Each member has a voice in selecting projects to fund. For more information, contact Cathy Clearwaters at or 765-455-9410.

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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