Inspired by a new College of Arts and Sciences program designed to spur interdisciplinary research, alumni Edward Hemmelgarn (WRC ’76, MGT ’80) and Janice Hammond (WRC ’75; GRS ’98, social welfare) have announced a $1 million pledge to support it. 

The couple’s pledge, to be fulfilled over a five-year period, will create an endowed fund to support seed grants that benefit faculty and students while also serving as catalysts for additional philanthropic investment. Furthermore, this gift will allow faculty to perform the preliminary work needed to demonstrate the promise of new and innovative concepts to outside funders—including foundations and federal agencies. 

Announced last fall, the Expanding Horizons Initiative seeks to strengthen and broaden research, encourage instructional innovation, and ignite interdisciplinary activities within the college. 

“We are humbled to receive such a generous gift from Janice and Edward,” said Joy K. Ward, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Their support will help fuel the momentum of the Expanding Horizons Initiative and provide even more opportunities for faculty-student collaborations in research and scholarship.” 

By supporting promising research ideas in the college, the program aims to foster discoveries to help meet society’s most pressing challenges. Expanding Horizons Initiative seed grants will also support Case Western Reserve students as they work side by side with faculty, who will provide mentoring and training. 

Since its inception last year, commitments to the Expanding Horizons Initiative have totaled more than $5.2 million, helping fund projects including: 

  • piloting a community-based science database to help combat invasive diseases that impact plant health; 
  • engaging a diverse cohort of undergraduates from historically marginalized groups in a mentored summer research experience on topics relevant to the human health-environment interface; and
  • creating participatory printmaking, visual literacy, and self-advocacy projects for under-resourced youth groups in East Cleveland and the Clark-Fulton neighborhood.

“We have been very impressed with Dean Ward and her focus on improving the quantity and quality of research and interdisciplinary education in the College of Arts and Sciences,” Hemmelgarn said. “We are only too happy to support this creative and strategic effort.”

Hemmelgarn is a member and active participant on the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Visiting Committee and has also served as an instructor at the university. He is a past recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award from Weatherhead School of Management, the Accounting Alumnus of the Year in 2003 and the Department of Chemistry’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2016. 

Hammond has served Case Western Reserve University as an evaluation manager for Cleveland’s Healthy Start program through the Center for Urban Poverty and Social Change, as a research associate in the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and on the dean’s visiting committee at the College of Arts and Sciences.

In addition to their gift to the College of Arts and Sciences, the couple have been generous donors to Weatherhead School of Management and the Mandel School.