The University of Nevada, Reno College of Liberal Arts will receive a gift from the Bilinski Educational Foundation to fund dissertation-year fellowships for doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences. The $500,000 gift will create the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship Fund for Land-Grant Liberal Arts Scholarship.
Over the next three years, the fund will support 20 students during the year they anticipate completing their dissertations. The Bilinski fellowships will include a stipend and a modest travel allowance. The first fellowships will be awarded in the 2013-14 academic year.
“During the final stages of pursuing their doctoral degrees, students really need uninterrupted time for research and writing,” said Scott Casper, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “This generous gift will allow us to support the work of our most promising scholars during this daunting time, so that they can complete their degrees and launch their careers, making real-world impact.”
Casper said projects that receive support will contribute to the land-grant, or service, mission of the University by helping to preserve and disseminate knowledge about the region’s cultural heritage or by enhancing the quality of life for people in the region.
There are currently about 225 students in eight doctoral programs in the humanities or social sciences: anthropology, Basque studies, English, history, political science, psychology, social psychology and judicial studies. All offer areas of emphasis that foster the University’s land-grant mission, and many are recognized nationally or internationally for their excellence.
For example, faculty and students working in the clinical psychology program, nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, serve the needs of several at-risk groups, including trauma survivors and people with HIV. Students studying in the behavior analysis program work directly with children affected by autism spectrum disorders in an effective early treatment program that has served as a worldwide model.
In addition, the Center for Basque Studies is the premier research center in Basque history and culture outside the Basque Country. The anthropology department has the nation’s foremost concentration of expertise in the Great Basin region of North America, with specialists in every era from prehistory and paleoecology to the present day.
“Our graduate students in the humanities and social sciences connect their projects to the community and world to enhance understanding and quality of life,” Casper said. “Yet, funding to help them complete their projects is difficult to come by. This generous gift from the Bilinski Education Foundation will provide much-needed support for students over the next three years, and we hope it will provide the beginnings of a long-term sustainable fellowship program for our College.”
Based in Point Reyes Station, Calif., the Bilinski Educational Foundation was founded in 2009 by the estate of Russell and Dorothy Bilinski, lifelong advocates of higher education and community responsibility.