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campus news

Colby-Sawyer College Receives Major Grant to Provide Digital Access to Important Art Work, Original Documents, Archives, and Campus Records

NEW LONDON, N.H. Jan. 9, 2007 – Colby-Sawyer College has been awarded a grant of $252,350 to fund its “Digital Document Management Project.” The grant was received from the Davis Educational Foundation, established by Stanton and Elizabeth Davis after Mr. Davis's retirement as chairman of Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc.

The two-year document digitization project will streamline the college's information operations by uniting academic, archival and administrative records in a single system, greatly improving access and ease of use. The project will be coordinated by a team of Colby-Sawyer professors, archivists, administrators and information technology specialists.

“The Davis Educational Foundation grant permits Information Resources to move ahead with the pilot part of an across-the-campus initiative to implement document imaging and electronic workflow,” said William Bitzer, director of Information Resources.

“This will increase productivity, improve approval processes, and direct documents of all sorts to their destinations electronically, where they will be available for future retrieval. Besides reducing wear and tear on original archival material and our staff, the project will literally add square footage to departments where documents are currently stored in boxes and file cabinets, often to the consternation of someone searching for a specific piece of paper.”

In considering the project proposal, the Davis Educational Foundation trustees visited the Colby-Sawyer campus to interview project team members, professors and campus administrators. “In making the award,” Foundation Trustee Peter K. Davis wrote to Colby-Sawyer President Thomas Galligan Jr., “trustees remarked on the high level of commitment and enthusiasm for the initiative and faculty members' interest and creativity in utilizing the college's archived materials in their courses.”

“We are extremely pleased and grateful to receive this generous grant from the Davis Educational Foundation,” President Galligan responded. “This is an exciting project that will improve our intellectual lives at Colby-Sawyer. The trustees wanted to learn as much as they could about the college, our students, our vision for the future and the pervasive way in which we at Colby-Sawyer collaborate on all major decisions.”

The Davis Educational Foundation grant will enable the college to digitize original work by major artists in the college's art collections, campus publications and other important archival material, dating back to the school's founding in 1837. By digitizing its records from across the campus, the college will vastly improve access to information for teaching, student projects and scholarly research.

“Our archives hold a significant number of primary documents that enable burgeoning undergraduate historians to learn professional skills,” said Ann Page Stecker, professor, Humanities, and David H. Winton Endowed Chair. “With the Davis Educational Foundation grant, access to those documents will be significantly easier and this will mean I can assign more students to work with them.”

“This grant will help us move to the next level with our permanent art collection,” said Loretta Barnett, professor and chair, Fine and Performing Arts. “It will help people across campus bring art into their curriculums. Students will understand that we have a decent art collection they can use in their studies. They would see more value in the college itself for having that resource.”

“This is going to be a wonderful resource for history classes,” added Randall Hanson, professor, Social Sciences and Education. “Over the years, we have increasingly pushed students to use the rich historical resources in the Colby-Sawyer archives. We have found that utilizing primary documents brings history alive. The Davis grant will allow students to access and analyze primary documents much more easily.”

“Right now students have to make an appointment to visit and work in our archives and come in with an idea of a topic in mind,” explains Lianne Keary, archivist and instructor in Information Resources. “Once the material is digitized, if they want to work at three in the morning or at any other time, they can search topics on their own computers, browse and develop their ideas to their hearts' content.”

The digitization project will improve administrative services to students. Record-keeping and sharing between offices will be much more efficient. It will easier to service student requests for information such as transcripts. Security measures will protect the confidentiality of records not appropriate for public access.

“This grant means a great deal to the college,” concluded Janice McElroy, grants manager, who coordinated the proposal to the foundation. “Our faculty have done wonderful things with technology already. This project will enable us to develop an exemplary program. We will be able to share the lessons learned with colleagues in other institutions in a variety of formats.”

Elizabeth K. Davis and Stanton W. Davis co-founded the Davis Educational Foundation as an expression of the couple's shared support and value for higher education. The foundation has provided over $64.8 million in grants to more than 120 institutions.

Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Students from 25 states and five foreign countries learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with pre-professional experience. Visit us on the World Wide Web at www.colby-sawyer.edu.