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Mission to DC adds to itinerary

When WSU launched its Mission to DC program three years ago, leader Jim Petersen, vice provost for research, knew he wanted to eventually expand to include faculty whose scholarship is in the humanities and arts. That future is here: six arts and humanities faculty are participating in the inaugural Mission to NY on April 26-27.

While faculty making the Mission to DC target federal agencies like the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, those going to New York City are visiting representatives from private philanthropic foundations.

In preparing for the trip, faculty and staff found previous Mission to DC experiences helpful … and no help at all, said Susan Ross, associate professor of communication and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. She has been on a Mission to DC and is working closely with Petersen and Devon Anderson of the WSU Foundation to lead the first Mission to NY cohort.

Some of the experience with planning and logistics from Mission to DC trips translated smoothly for Mission to NY. But much was entirely new.

“Foundations are a much more idiosyncratic diplomatic or ‘sales’ challenge,” Ross said. Whereas government funding agencies have a public responsibility to meet with the public, private foundations do not. Some were uncertain whether they should meet with faculty because of concerns for fairness. Others wanted to meet, but it took time for them to figure out how to do it.

Instrumental throughout the process were Anderson and Kathleen Warren at the WSU Foundation. Through the foundation, they have ties and contacts to other foundations and generally know how foundations work, and that help was invaluable, Ross said.

She is enthusiastic that the Mission to NY is expanding an opportunity for faculty that already has proven itself in Mission to DC.

“A mission changes your self-perception and perspective,” she said. It shows faculty members that powerful people care about their work and can help them advance, which in turn helps their students and WSU overall.

“It’s a wonderful message for our faculty to get.”

For more information on the Mission to DC or NY programs, see or contact Jim Petersen, 335-9141 or, or Lynn Fister, 335-9661 or

Look for reports from both missions in ongoing sessions coordinated for the Office of Research by the Office of Grant and Research Development.

Mission goals

• Helping faculty secure funding for scholarly activities.
• Enhancing the reputation of faculty.
• Enhancing the reputation of WSU.
• Building faculty collaboration.

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