UE Receives $1 Million Lilly Endowment Grant

The University of Evansville (UE) recently received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to enhance its online education and learning efforts. The grant was awarded through Lilly Endowment’s initiative, Charting the Future of Indiana’s Colleges and Universities, which was launched in 2019. Lilly Endowment invited all of Indiana’s accredited colleges and universities to examine how they could not only educate students and prepare them for successful futures but also maintain long-term financial sustainability as an institution. The organization announced the Phase 2 recipients on Monday, with a total of approximately $62 million awarded.

After the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, UE successfully transitioned to an online learning platform for the Spring 2020 semester due to the dedication of faculty and staff. The pandemic helped UE to realize the substantial benefits of robust, technology-based educational capabilities.

“This generous gift we have received from Lilly Endowment will help us transform the educational experience of our students at the University of Evansville,” said UE president Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. “As the world of technology continues to evolve and shape education, we are committed to investing and developing our technological capabilities as a growing sector for the future.”

With the grant funds, UE plans to implement major initiatives that will enhance the campus as well as the online learning environment. As the University plans for a future after the pandemic, online education will undoubtedly play a larger role in academics. Supporting online education will allow UE to serve traditional, on-campus students in addition to adult and international students.

UE will create an Office of Strategic Technology and Online Learning within the Office of Academic Affairs. The office will include a director and two full-time assistant directors to lead the University’s efforts in developing online education that ensures the same high-quality experience offered through the in-person experience. Through this office, faculty will have access to training opportunities and one-on-one support as they develop online courses.

Classrooms will also be renovated on campus to be capable of broadcasting to regional businesses, adult learners working remotely, and international locations, including China and India. The pandemic may create permanent changes to international travel, but specially designed ‘telepresence’ classrooms will allow UE to meet the demand for American programs in overseas settings.

The grant will provide license software solutions for issues that are caused by technical difficulties discovered in an online environment, such as greater exam security, video capturing, and synchronous course delivery. Moving forward, UE will increase efforts towards program and curricular development for online learning.

Lastly, UE will develop programs to offer undergraduate and graduate certificates, badges, non-credit professional development programs, and new degree programs for adult learners. This initiative will reach out to displaced workers, help local employers meet the demands of skills needed in their changing workforce, and encourage non-traditional students to enhance their career skill sets.

“The worldwide pandemic has changed higher education profoundly, and many of these changes will be permanent,” said Michael Austin, PhD, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at UE. “This generous grant from Lilly Endowment will help prepare us for the world that will exist long after COVID-19 has faded into the background.”

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. Visit lillyendowment.org.

Students at the University of Evansville shape powerful and enduring change. UE is the first in Indiana to be designated as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, and its changemaking culture empowers students to improve the world around them as UE Changemakers. With over 80 majors in the arts and sciences and pre-professional programs, UE’s diverse student body represents 44 states and 52 countries. U.S. News & World Report recognizes UE as the #4 Best College in the Midwest among private schools. For more information, please visit evansville.edu.