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Beth Nichols, college's first grant writer, gets 2010 Excellence in Education Award

06/23/2010
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Beth Nichols, Executive Director for Grants, Research and Institutional Effectiveness

Beth Nichols, who was hired as Edmonds Community College’s first full-time grant writer in 1998, has received the 2010 Excellence in Education Award from the college’s trustees. The award honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to education and the college’s mission.

In making the award, the trustees noted Nichols’ expertise, commitment to the college, and strong work ethic. “Beth represents what is best about Edmonds Community College: She is driven, motivated, creative, and supportive of her colleagues and the students we serve,” said trustee Jeannette Wood.

The award also signifies the growing importance of grants to the college’s funding model. Grants are now seen as crucial to maintaining services to support student engagement, learning, and achievement.

When Nichols was hired in 1998, the associate director of grants and resource development was a temporary position initially funded by the Edmonds Community College Foundation. At that time, the college generated revenues of $9.5 million in grants and contracts. That number grew to $22.3 million in 2009. Today, the college’s grants and contracts program makes up 19 percent of its operating budget, a larger proportion than at any other community college in the state.

“To continue to fulfill our mission in a climate of diminishing state funding, we’ve looked to grants to enable us to continue to serve students. Our initiative in pursing grants and contracts has helped us weather the past four years of successive, permanent cuts to our operating budget with less detriment to students than would otherwise have been possible,” said Edmonds Community College President Jack Oharah.

Key federal grants have bolstered the college. In 1999, the college received a $1.75 million Title III grant to improve organizational development and employee training. In 2005, a TRiO grant of $880,000 over four years provided support services to low-income students. Most recently, in 2008, the college received a $1.9 million Title III grant to better track students’ academic progress and increase graduation rates.

Working with community partners, Edmonds Community College grants have benefitted numerous community organizations including local utilities, the Edmonds School District, the Snohomish County Workforce Development Council as well as other state colleges and universities.

Grants obtained by the college have also had a national impact on math and science education. A Math Across the Curriculum project started by instructors at Edmonds Community College was funded by the National Science Foundation and spread across the nation to improve math education in schools. An Edmonds Community College led grant established the National Resource Center for Material Science Technology, which furthers training in advanced manufacturing.

Under Nichols’ leadership, the college has received 12 National Science Foundation grants in 11 years, the first of which provided scholarships to low-income students studying computer science, engineering, and math. Subsequent grants have helped the college develop outstanding math and science programs.

Grants have also helped the college start programs in manufacturing, technology, and green jobs training with innovative degrees and certificates in materials science, computer game development, and energy efficiency. Numerous workforce grants have helped laid-off workers retrain for in-demand careers. They provide funding to create classes, hire instructors, purchase equipment, and defray tuition.

“Edmonds Community College has been so successful because of the grants culture we’ve created at the college. Grants are everybody’s business. A lot of people are working very hard to find more resources to help students be successful,” said Nichols.

Today, as the college’s executive director for grants, research and institutional effectiveness, Nichols supervises three grants and research employees. She shares her expertise with colleges across the state and at the national Council for Resource Development. Prior to coming to the college, Nichols worked in Delaware as a grant writer for Independent Living, a nonprofit assisting people with disabilities to live independently in the community, and as a grant program manager for Delaware Technical & Community College. She earned her master’s degree in administration in higher education in 1992 at the University of Toledo.

The Board of Trustees’ Excellence in Education Award has been given annually to one recipient at the college since 1984. It comes with a $500 gift and $1,000 in professional development funds for the recipient’s department. Sociology instructor Anne Martin received the award in 2009. Past recipients have included anthropology instructor Tom Murphy, international education division leader David Cordell, and business management instructor Liz Murata.

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Established in 1967, accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and governed by the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, Edmonds Community College, a two-year public college in Lynnwood, Washington, is a leader in providing quality opportunities for learning and service, responding to the dynamic needs of our diverse community.

Established in 1982, the Edmonds Community College Foundation supports access, success, and excellence for students, faculty, and staff at Edmonds Community College.

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Grants, Research and Institutional Effectiveness

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