The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, based in Jacksonville, Florida, recently announced that it has awarded Episcopal Divinity School a grant of $200,000. The award will be used to support President Ragsdale’s goal of strengthening the institution by updating its educational technology.
EDS is among the first Episcopal seminaries to launch successful web-based educational programs. In fact, distributive learning students now make up one-third of the school’s degree candidates. As the program has grown, it has required more sophisticated equipment, greater bandwidth, and improved training for faculty and staff.
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, well known as a key funder of public television, also support programs in higher education, health, secondary education, and religion. Among theological schools, the foundation is known for its due diligence, and the grant process included several stages of assessment, questionnaires, and a site visit.
When asked what qualities the foundation evaluates during an institutional visit, religion program director Cheryl Tupper said, “Qualities that are important to our trustees include the record of alumni and trustee support, financial stability, and a sense of community and shared purpose.” EDS earned high marks.
The essence of Dean Ragsdale’s proposal is to upgrade the school’s technological capacity in order to keep up with the growing demand for distributive learning. Although people who visit EDS’s distributive learning classrooms see smartboards and cameras, they might miss the hidden network and infrastructure that makes these classes possible: a new server room, the addition of T1 lines, expanded WiFi coverage, and upgraded fiber optic networks are all part of the plan.
The grant will contribute significantly to the school’s growth by supporting the successful integration of these new technical elements, which will give EDS students a personal and cutting-edge classroom experience during their ministerial formation.