Feb. 15, 2007
Vol. 26 No. 10

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    Zimmer establishes fund to study Darfur’s human rights crisis

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    University administrators are looking for creativity and boldness in proposals for use of the $200,000 that President Zimmer has allocated for research connected to the human rights crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

    In a statement to faculty and students, Zimmer said he hopes the Darfur Action and Education Fund “will encourage creative and entrepreneurial thinking about University-based activities that will broaden knowledge and help prepare our students—through real world experiences and scholarly work—to advance human rights and the well-being of people around the world.”

    Keith Moffat, Deputy Provost for Research, who is managing the fund, agreed, noting that there are no preconceived notions about how this money should be used.

    “We are open to receiving any and all proposals, within broad guidelines,” said Moffat, who also is the Louis Block Professor in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and a founding member if the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics. “We encourage as many creative proposals as possible from all facets of the University community.”

    Moffat said he is forming a small committee, composed of faculty members and students, which will review proposals and administer funding.

    “Once the committee is formed and gains experience, our criteria for accepting and reviewing proposals may change,” he explained.

    The initial guidelines are: each proposal must be led by a member of the University community; each must have an educational purpose consistent with the broadly-defined mission of the University; and each must have a connection—direct or indirect—to issues related to the human rights crisis in Darfur.

    “Keeping those guidelines in mind, we are open to anything and everything,” Moffat added. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s come one, come all.”

    Moffat said he can imagine that both small- and large-scale projects will be brought to the committee—ranging perhaps from a one-time guest speaker, to travel abroad, to courses taught over a period of years to a lecture series.

    In his statement, Zimmer said he established the fund “initially in the amount of $200,000,” a notion Moffat touched on as well.

    “The University will be continually assessing the success of this endeavor. As with any endeavor, if it is judged successful, there will be pressure to extend it.”

    Currently, a town hall meeting to discuss the details of the fund and the proposal application process is being planned, and a Web site is being developed and will be available at http://fundfordarfur.uchicago.edu.

    “This is an important venture, and the completed site will be widely publicized to the University community,” said Moffat.