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St. Bonaventure receives $147,000 grant for Seneca Nation educational initiative

Jan 31, 2023

St. Bonaventure University has been awarded a $147,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities to bolster its relationship with the Seneca Nation of Indians.

Dr. Oleg V. Bychkov, director of SBU’s Native American and Indigenous Studies program, will serve as project director.

Justin Schapp, a deer clan citizen of the Seneca Nation and adjunct instructor in the NAIS program at SBU, will support project implementation. Dr. Megan Walsh, acting dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at the time, was instrumental in helping to secure the grant.

The grant is to support the “Native American and Indigenous Studies in the General Education Curriculum,” a humanities initiative designed to strengthen NAIS and humanities teaching at St. Bonaventure and further develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the nearby Seneca Nation.

“SBU's commitment to ensure the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and perspectives is a primary reason we were successful in securing this grant,” Schapp said.

“Implementing this grant over the next three years will help faculty and students gain a greater understanding of important Indigenous issues and of our shared Franciscan values, as we continue our journey to learn how to appreciate each other and to celebrate our similarities and differences.” 

The project, which will reach all incoming students every year, will include:

  • development of six modules that will be incorporated into all sections of two required first-year general education course co-requisites: SBU 101: Community of Learners, and SBU 102: Introduction to Contemporary Diversity. The new modules will incorporate key concepts in NAIS and tie them to SBU and its mission.
  • three faculty professional development workshops featuring external NAIS experts; and
  • recurring campus events featuring guest speakers and cultural heritage knowledge-keepers.

“This project will advance key goals around academic excellence and diversity, equity, and inclusion formalized in SBU’s strategic plan,” said Dr. Jeff Gingerich, university president.

“It will also play an important role in acknowledging and addressing past injustices against the Seneca Nation. The project will strengthen understanding of the Seneca Nation and Indigenous peoples among SBU students, faculty, and staff and likewise strengthen the university’s relationship with the Seneca Nation.”

The university is hopeful that the early exposure and campus programming will boost student interest in the new minor in NAIS, introduced in spring 2022.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars.


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. St. Bonaventure was named the #5 regional university value in the North in U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 college rankings edition.