09:56 AM

CSUSM Receives Two More Grants from The Conrad Prebys Foundation

Cal State San Marcos has received two grants totaling almost $250,000 from The Conrad Prebys Foundation to support the university’s burgeoning innovation ecosystem and to help provide immersive virtual reality training to students.  

The gifts build on one of a similar size that CSUSM received last year from The Conrad Prebys Foundation, the largest charitable organization in San Diego County. The 2021 grant, the first ever given to CSUSM from the foundation, was used to build out the university’s Innovation Hub, which is holding its grand opening on April 5.  

“We are so thankful for the continued generosity of The Conrad Prebys Foundation, which is changing the face of San Diego through its commitment to philanthropy,” CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt said. “This additional funding toward our innovation ecosystem and innovative technology will help us build on our efforts to solve critical problems for our region’s future and keep our students on the cutting edge of training and research.” 

The new grants come in two parts. The first one, in the amount of $136,800, is to support CSUSM’s faculty innovation fellows program. The program, launched this January, involves five faculty members (one from each of CSUSM’s four colleges, as well as the university library) who were selected to lead an entrepreneurial project while also serving as an innovation ambassador to other faculty.  

The funding from The Conrad Prebys Foundation will support the first year of inaugural cohort’s fellowship. The fellows each have a two-year appointment.  

“With many thanks to The Conrad Prebys Foundation, we are excited to expand the innovation ecosystem at CSUSM, and the contributions of the faculty innovation fellows will be a vital component of that,” said Scott Gross, associate vice president of industry partnerships. 

The second grant, for $100,000, will be used to pilot interdisciplinary virtual reality courses in CSUSM’s College of Education, Health and Human Services. The college will be purchasing virtual reality equipment and software as well as hiring a virtual reality coordinator to partner with faculty to create VR experiences within their courses during the 2022-23 academic year.  

“Funding from The Conrad Prebys Foundation is critical for the college to capitalize on the ever-growing capacity of virtual reality to offer sophisticated, simulated educational experiences for our students in health care disciplines,” said Jennifer Ostergren, dean of CEHHS. “Out of the pandemic, our college and the industries we serve are looking for ways to use the knowledge we gained from engaging in a virtual world. With this grant, CEHHS will be at the leading edge of developing virtual reality and doing so in an interdisciplinary way so that our students learn how to collaborate across disciplines.” 

CSUSM's Innovation Hub is a 2,800-square-foot space within the Extended Learning building on campus where students learn how to be entrepreneurs, innovators and the next generation of leaders. 

“The Conrad Prebys Foundation is proud to support CSUSM's efforts to build on its environment of innovation and innovative technology,"  said Erin Decker, director of grantmaking for the foundation. “The university is developing the leaders of tomorrow and effecting meaningful change in the region, and we're happy to be part of their story.”