Students now have the opportunity to contribute to the mission of Loyola’s strategic plan with the implementation of the Student Innovation Fund.
Plan 2020 is Loyola’s five-year strategic plan aiming to build “a more just, humane and sustainable world.” It has four specific objectives: ensure student success; bring social justice values into academics; promote multidisciplinary partnerships; and engage with the Rogers Park and Edgewater communities.
The fund calls for student-generated initiatives supporting the values of Plan 2020. Students can submit proposals through April 18, but the application will re-open next semester, according to an email from Student Development and the Office of the Provost sent to students on March 21.
The application is open to all Loyola students and student organizations, according to Vice President for Student Development Jane Neufeld. The fund is expected to run each semester through Spring 2021, according to Neufeld.
Sophomore marketing major Andrew Turner plans on applying for the fund and said he wants to bring more social justice conversations to the Quinlan School of Business.
“As a Jesuit university, I think that there is room for us to facilitate connections between social justice and business,” said the 19-year old. “We should be having those conversations [about] that line between drawing a profit and doing good for the community. Oftentimes, I think business and social justice have this false dichotomy where they’re competing thoughts, but that’s not necessarily the case.”
Money for the fund will come from the university’s revenue, which includes tuition and gifts from donors, according to Vice Provost for Academic Centers and Global Initiatives Patrick Boyle. There are no set guidelines about how much money will be allocated yet, according to Neufeld.
Neufeld said student engagement with Plan 2020 motivated the creation of the fund. Loyola hosted a student forum about Plan 2020 in October 2016, but Neufeld said she felt students weren’t connecting with it.
“It was really hard for students to identify or even know that it was happening,” Neufeld said. “[Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney] set aside this fund and it’s just an opportunity for students to get involved, to become familiar with it and to come up with really creative ideas that would … help the strategic plan be successful.”
Rooney set up a similar fund for faculty to submit proposals, according to Boyle.
The Academic Innovation Team (AIT) helped implement faculty initiatives supporting Plan 2020.
Special Assistant to the Provost for Academic Innovation and marketing professor Joan Phillips is the chair of the team. Faculty initiatives funded by the AIT include the introduction of a new master’s degree program in the Quinlan School of Business and two certificate programs in the School of Communication, according to Phillips. She said the team is working with other academic departments to develop proposals.
The Plan 2020 committee has funded a student-led initiative in the past. Loyola Limited, the university’s student-run business enterprise, will work with local high school students starting this summer supporting Plan 2020’s priority of community engagement.
Some students have already shown interest in the proposal, according to Boyle. There aren’t any strict guidelines on what students can propose yet, but they must align with the values of Plan 2020, according to Neufeld.
Kelsey McClear, 21, is a student representative on the Implementation and Steering Committee for Plan 2020, and she will help allocate funds, according to Neufeld.
McClear said she’s excited about the opportunities the fund will offer to students.
“Our end goal is to be able to greater the student experience,” said the senior marketing major. “If there’s an idea that they’ve had and they haven’t been able to find a way to see it through, this is their chance to be able to do it.”
Sophomore psychology major Nuha Siddiqui said she thinks including students in Plan 2020 is important.
“I think, as students, they’ll have what’s best for students in mind because there’s no better perspective than the student perspective,” said the 19-year-old.
Turner said he hopes other students will apply for the fund as well.
“I know that there are so many ideas out there,” Turner said. “I really encourage other students to really go out and apply for this fund. If you have an idea, start engaging with it. Your ideas are valuable and definitely make this university a better place.”