Current and Prior Awardees

Current awardees often have frequently asked questions; answers to these FAQs may be found here.

A list of awardees from the strategic initiative funding program can be found by year below.

2019-2020 (Cohort 4)

Strategic Initiative: Environmental Integration Lab 

Project Contact(s): Dr. Nichole Wissman-Weber, Assistant Professor of Management and Dr. Julia Cantzler, Associate Professor of Sociology

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 1: Enhancing Student Learning and Success

About: The initiative seeks to create an Environmental Integration Lab that will bring together faculty and students in a concerted effort to connect campus-wide sustainability endeavors as it relates to climate change. The University of San Diego has a variety of experts on environmental science, real estate sustainability, sustainable supply chain, carbon footprint measuring, green engineering product design and process development, environmental policy analysis, sustainable management, and climate justice that have never been formally brought together. The lab will harness our resources and talent to be integrated, leveraged, and made much more effective at addressing the issues of climate change and sustainability.

Strategic Initiative: Equinox Project at USD

Project Contact(s): Dr. Emily Young, Executive Director, The Nonprofit Institute 

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 3: Improving Structural and Operational Effectiveness

About: Through the Equinox Project initiative, we are seeking to more deeply engage faculty and students by providing opportunities for research in support of the Quality of Life Dashboard’s data for the purpose of knowledge generation, as well as opportunities to connect our students with the Leaders 2020 young professionals network in service of student learning, student success, and community impact. By bolstering the Equinox Project with broader ties to USD faculty and students, we hope to elevate its profile as the leading source of community-wide data on critical issues to our region’s quality of life.

Strategic Initiative: Food Studies Initiative at USD

Project Contact(s): Dr. Aaron Gross, Associate Professor, Department of Theology and Religious Studies; Dr. Christopher Carter, Assistant Professor, Assistant Chair, and Department Diversity Officer, Theology and Religious Studies; Dr. Nick Riggle, Assistant Professor, Philosophy

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation 

About: The Food Studies Initiative seeks to execute a series of diverse campus meetings and events that will simultaneously (a) serve as a laboratory to better understand USD community values related to food, (b) accelerate the creation of a permanent Food Studies Program, (c) support related fundraising, and (d) transform food at USD from an “auxiliary” part of campus life to a powerful vehicle both for expressing values and for enhancing USD’s educational mission.

Strategic Initiative: National Fellowships

Project Contact(s): Ms. Cassandra Gomez, Director of Pre-Health Advising Services

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 1: Enhancing Student Learning and Success 

About: The purpose of the National Fellowships strategic initiative project is to implement a faculty team approach to better support USD students in their applications to national fellowships (such as Rhodes, Goldwater, Marshall, Truman, etc.).

Strategic Initiative: The Mixtec Community Garden: Ways of Knowing, Being, and Doing

Project Contact(s): Dr. Kevin Guerrieri, Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of Latin American Studies

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation 

About: This initiative is based on a collaboration with the Mixtec community in Linda Vista, San Diego. It is multi-faceted and seeks to focus on multiple aspects of the community: a community garden, linguistic mapping and development, and the preservation of indigenous knowledge, medicinal usage, and traditional foods. All efforts are linked to student learning at USD in multiple disciplines.

Strategic Initiative: The PAX Initiative (USD Stopping Traffic Initiative)

Project Contact(s): Melanie Delgado, JD, Staff Attorney at the Children's Advocacy Institute; Dr. Ami Carpenter, Associate Professor at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation

About: The Partners Against eXploitation (PAX) Initiative seeks to build on the opportunity USD has to be a leader in the fight against human trafficking. Situated in a large, diverse, and border city, USD is a multidisciplinary University with a focus on changemaking. This perfectly positions the University  to drive change in the fight against human trafficking. The PAX Initiative seeks to facilitate communication and connections between the University’s various units to collaborate on innovative solutions to the urgent challenge of human trafficking.

Strategic Initiative: USD Goal Toward an International/Multicultural Experience for all Undergraduate Students

Project Contact(s): Dr. Denise Dimon, Associate Provost for International Affairs and Professor of Economics; Chris Nayve, JD, Associate Vice President for Community Engagement

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation

About: Approximately 50% of USD graduates study abroad, compared to 10% nationally. USD consistently ranks in the top 10 Universities nation-wide for this statistic. In addition, approximately another 30% of USD students engage in multicultural experiences such as cross-border engagement or community engaged learning in the San Diego area. This initiative seeks to research why the remaining 20% of students do not study abroad or engage in a multicultural experience in the hopes of making this a graduation requirement for all undergraduate students. The project also seeks to identify additional opportunities for engagement.

2018-2019 (Cohort 3)

Strategic Initiative: Operational Excellence Development Program

Project Contact(s): Dr. Simon Croom, Professor of Operations & Supply Chain Management, School of Business; Dr. Bradley Chase, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering, School of Engineering; and Dr. Leonard Perry, Associate Professor, Industrial Engineering, School of Engineering

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 3: Improving Structural and Operational Effectiveness

About: This initiative seeks to build on the existing expertise in the School of Business and the School of Engineering to develop an accessible professional development program for USD employees focused on improving process effectiveness across campus operations. The program will employ project-based learning for operational staff, supervisors, managers, and executives and provide certification for successful participants.

Strategic Initiative: Department Chair Leadership Development Program

Project Contact(s): Dr. Lorri Sulpizio, Executive Director, Conscious Leadership Academy

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 4: Elevating Faculty and Staff Engagement

About: This initiative seeks to create a Department Chair Leadership Program (DCLP) at USD to serve department chairs and other faculty interested in developing as leaders, and to aid the transition from faculty to administration. The DCLP will help USD engage and develop faculty into leaders, creating a positive campus environment and filtering down to student learning. The program will also develop campus leaders who value and promote diversity and inclusion.

Strategic Initiative: Empowering Community Changemakers

Project Contact(s): Bridget Fogarty Gramme, JD, Administrative Director and Supervising Attorney, USD's Center for Public Interest Law 

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation 

About: This initiative seeks to unite the knowledge, expertise, and resources of the University’s faculty, staff, and students with those of other exemplary public interest-minded organizations in our San Diego community, and use these combined forces to empower San Diego citizens to learn about, monitor, and participate in government proceedings; impact the governmental decision making process; and advocate for issues important to them. 

Strategic Initiative:  Launch of the USD Military “Hub” 

Project Contact(s): Amanda Etter, Director, Military & Veterans Programs

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation

About: This initiative seeks to establish a USD Military Hub that will address the needs of the military community and deepen the work of various entities around campus. It will open the door for stronger military outreach and community partnerships through the development of united campus efforts to educate the military population on higher education opportunities.

Strategic Initiative: Urgent Challenges Collective - Homelessness and Food Insecurity

Project Contact(s): Dr. Mike Williams, Director, Changemaker Hub and Professor, Political Science and International Relations; Dr. Kate DeConinck, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Theology and Religious Studies

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation

About: This initiative seeks to establish an Urgent Challenges Collective, creating new opportunities for faculty, students, staff, and community partners to become more engaged in addressing the issues of homelessness and food insecurity. Specifically, over the next two years, the Urgent Challenges Collective will work to coordinate USD’s efforts and create new initiatives (where necessary) to build upon our knowledge of these issues (engaged research and interdisciplinary courses), to support community partners who are engaged with these issues (community engagement), and to advocate and spread awareness about homelessness and food insecurity issues on and off campus (advocacy).

Strategic Initiative: USD Rome Center

Project Contact(s): Dr. Denise Dimon, Associate Provost for International Affairs and Professor of Economics

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation

About: This initiative sought to expand USD's global footprint by establishing a USD Rome Center in Italy. The University currently has several programs in Italy that could be enhanced by a permanent USD presence in Rome. In addition, such a center would allow the opportunity to develop new initiatives in a city strongly linked to USD's Catholic identity. 

Strategic Initiative: University of San Diego's Tijuana Hub and Classroom 

Project Contact(s): Ms. Rachel Christensen, Assistant Director, Center for Peace & Commerce

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation 

About:  The first stage of this initiative seeks to map the current USD footprint in Tijuana using the Collaboratory Tool which produces reports on student, faculty, and staff efforts in specific regions or across identifying themes. The second stage of this initiative will identify and pilot the use of a physical presence in Tijuana, Mexico. A co-located physical space accessible from the San Ysidro Ports of Entry would act as a Hub for Tijuana-based USD activities and serve a myriad of USD stakeholders’ needs as a meeting space, location for interviews, research center, art studio, temporary locker and storage unit, and space for collaboration with community partners.

Strategic Initiative: Co-creating the Future of Faith: The Role of Women in the Catholic Church

Project Contact(s): Mr. Jeffrey Burns, Director, Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture 

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation

About: This initiative seeks to support a sequence of three events to open the dialogue with female members of the Catholic community whose voices have long been neglected; engage high school youth in the process; and craft a message that can be shared with the diocese and beyond. The objective is to create tangible artifacts and recommendations for the future to increase the role of women in the Catholic church.

2017-2018 (Spring 2018, Cohort 2)

Strategic Initiative: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Certificate Design Workshop

Project Contact(s): Dr. Suzanne Walther, Assistant Professor, Environmental and Ocean Sciences

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 1: Enhancing Student Learning and Success

About: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a cornerstone of geography and related environmental programs across the country, and has been fundamental to environmental studies and science at USD. By bringing together participants across the university, as well as external industry experts, this project sought to create a cross-campus collaborative effort of stakeholders with additional external input to design a viable and effective GIS certificate at USD. Initiative funds were used to host a one-day workshop during which participants would research undergraduate GIS certificate programs to inform the design of a USD certificate program. 

Strategic Initiative: Religious Educators Certificate

Project Contact(s): Ms. Erin Bishop, Director of Mission and Center for Christian Spirituality

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation

About: Each person who teaches religion in a Catholic school in the United States must obtain a basic catechetical certificate as approved by the local diocese. The Diocese of San Diego does not have a distinct instructional program for teachers separate from the one it offers volunteer catechists at the parish level. An inadequate theological background impoverishes the church, but educators who haven’t benefited from a critical examination of the faith impoverishes society as a whole. In order to teach the faith in a way that enables every child in a Catholic school to become a Changemaker, teachers need a program of their own. With the theological expertise in USD’s Theology and Religious Studies department, the educational expertise across the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, and the spiritual resources within University Ministry, this initiative sought to offer a unique opportunity for local school teachers to have an in-depth formative experience that will benefit students in Catholic schools across the diocese.

Strategic Initiative: STEAM Academy and Youth and Community Conference

Project Contact(s): Dr. Perla Myers, Professor, Mathematics; Dr. Joi Spencer, Associate Professor and Associate Dean, School of Leadership and Education Sciences; and Dr. Odesma Dalrymple, Assistant Professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation 

About: This initiative included two inter-connected components, 1) a STEAM Summer Academy for Middle and High School students, with USD students serving as enrichment facilitators, and 2) a STEAM Youth and Community Conference that aimed to provide new pathways for youth to ignite, develop, and pursue their STEAM interest, while simultaneously elevating STEAM literacy, awareness, and nurturing the potential of their communities.

Strategic Initiative: The Social Fabric Initiative - Youth Changemaking in San Diego County

Project Contact(s): Dr. Andrew Blum, Executive Director, Institute for Peace and Justice, Professor of Practice

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation 

About: The Social Fabric Initiative was designed to build dense social networks among youth within San Diego County. The goal of the initiative was to build more connected, peaceful communities by engaging diverse teams in solving problems they identify in their communities.

Strategic Initiative: Torero Ventures Initiative

Project Contact(s): Dr. Rangapriya Kannan-Narasimhan, Associate Professor of Management, Business School and Faculty Director of Torero Ventures Program

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation

About:  The Torero Ventures Initiative (TVI) is an experiential, interdisciplinary, entrepreneurship, and innovative management-education initiative that leverages USD’s rich competence in the liberal arts. This initiative sought to provide USD with a competitive advantage in entrepreneurship and innovation management-education as compared to other regional schools that do not have a similar emphasis on liberal arts and values-based education. This initiative sought to create a 4-unit course, approved to be taught in the business school to a mixture of both graduate and undergraduate students.

2017-2018 (Fall 2017, Cohort 1)

Strategic Initiative: Western Science Meets Indigenous Ways of Knowing: Creating a Core Scientific Inquiry Course with Integration and Indigenous Science Resources 

Project Contacts: Marcelle Darby, Teaching Professor, Department of Biology; Dr. Persephone Hooper Lewis, Tribal Liaison/Professor of Practice, Department of Ethnic Studies

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 1: Enhancing Student Learning and Success

About: This initiative sought to develop an undergraduate lecture/lab course that synthesized Indigenous knowledge and Western science, and developed inquiry-based laboratory sessions that could be integrated into a Kumeyaay land-based curriculum utilizing a partnership between USD adjunct faculty and the local Kumeyaay people.

Strategic Initiative: Environment & Social Justice Leadership Hub

Project Contact(s): Dr. Emily Young, Executive Director, The Nonprofit Institute; Christiana DeBenedict, Director of Environment Leadership Initiatives, The Nonprofit Institute; Lia Bruce, Program and Outreach Coordinator, The Nonprofit Institute 

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 3: Improving Structural and Operational Effectiveness

About: This initiative sought to leverage the Changemaker Hub's five years of interdisciplinary experience with Climate Education Partners to cultivate the next generation of leaders, strengthen organizations and communities, and implement solutions through comprehensive curriculum, innovative educational models, collaborative research, and community engagement.

Strategic Initiative: Mapping the Pathways

Project Contact(s): John Loggins, Director of Community Engaged Learning, The Mulvaney Center

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 3: Improving Structural and Operational Effectiveness

About: This initiative sought to implement an online interface to provide USD's various divisions with a method to use technology to track curricular and co-curricular engagement, and also provide a database of USD's community partners.

Strategic Initiative: Paying it Forward

Project Contact(s): Dr. Adriana Vamosiu, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics and Dr. Deborah Kelly, Clinical Professor of Economics, Research Assistant

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 3: Improving Structural and Operational Effectiveness 

About: This initiative sought to collect and analyze data to inform USD about how to increase alumni donations.

Strategic Initiative: Bridging the Town and Gown 

Project Contact(s): Maria Silva, Director of Neighborhood & Community Engaged Partnerships, The Mulvaney Center

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation 

About: For this initiative, the Mulvaney Center, in partnership with Mission and Ministry, the Center for Inclusion and Diversity, and the Changemaker Hub, planned to increase access and opportunity for local and cross-border community partners by offsetting the campus scheduling, operations, and parking costs associated with bringing the community to campus, as well as looking at alternative forms of sustainable mobility.

Strategic Initiative: Discovering the Engineer Within: Asset-based Approaches for Teaching and Revealing Engineering Knowledge for Low-income Students of Color  

Project Contact(s): Dr. Joel Alejandro Mejia, Assistant Professor of General Engineering; Dr. Odesma Dalrymple, Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering; Dr. Alberto Lopez Pulido, Professor of Ethnic Studies

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation

About: This initiative sought to create and engage middle school students of color in engineering activities that involve practices in their own language, using approaches from their own culture, and providing engineering solutions to their own communities. 

Strategic Initiative: E2E STEM Incubator

Project Contact(s): Dr. Lisa Dawley, Executive Director, The Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education and Dr. Yaoran Li, Managing Researcher, The Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation

About: Through a USD-Linda Vista Partnership, this initiative sought to coordinate and facilitate USD-K12 STEM projects through the use of an Education to Employment (E2E) incubator

Strategic Initiative: Engineering Exchange

Project Contact(s): Dr. Susan Lord, Professor and Chair of General Engineering; Dr. Odesma Dalrymple, Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering; Dr. Caroline Baillie, Professor of Praxis in Integrated Engineering

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation 

About: Through a collaboration between the Mulvaney Center and Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, this initiative sought to turn community-defined 'problem briefs' into actionable student assignments, design projects, research theses, and/or extra-curricular pro-bono engineering projects supported by local professional engineers. It also sought to take engineering to the community via an exhibition truck. 

Strategic Initiative: The Turning Wheels Project

Project Contact(s): Dr. Alberto Lopez Pulido, Professor, Ethnic Studies

Main Strategic Goal Alignment: Goal 5: Amplifying Local & Global Engagement and Reputation  

About: This initiative sought to create a mobile classroom through art exhibits, music, dance, public lectures,Tand theater, to serve as an exhibit space and gathering place for drawing community members to learn and to address key issues and challenges of the Logan Heights community with involvement and participation from USD faculty, staff, and students. 

Strategic Initiative: A Transformational Change: Undergraduate Research

Project Contact(s): Dr. Jennifer Prairie, Assistant Professor, Environmental and Ocean Sciences; Dr. Elisa Maldonado Greene, Director, Office of Undergraduate Research; Mr. Ramiro Frausto, Director, TRiO McNair Scholars

Main Strategic Goal Alignment:  Goal 2: Strengthening Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice

About:  This initiative sought to increase the effectiveness of undergraduate research at USD by both increasing the number of students engaged, and by addressing insufficiencies and inequalities in student support across programs such as SURE, PURE, and McNair.