For faculty, receiving gifts-in-kind from generous donors and sponsors equals equipment, facilities, and supplies that often boost both the student and faculty experience and frequently allows access to cutting-edge technology.
But until today, the process to request and process these gifts has been far from cutting edge. With a new paperless procedure, gifts-in-kind will be processed in a much faster and more efficient way, says David Leach, executive director of institutional advancement. “We’ve moved from a cumbersome system that required paper forms to a web-based, paperless system that is much easier to use.”
Faculty will be especially happy with the new link (www.wpi.edu/+gik), which requires answering several questions on an online form and hitting the send button. The time saved lets faculty get on with what they need to do, Leach says, and then University Advancement can take over.
Gifts-in-kind are different from monetary donations. The chief financial officer has the final decision on accepting gifts-in-kind, but a rigorous process must be followed to ensure it will benefit WPI and not require something the university does not have, such as more laboratory space than is available.
Gifts-in-kind at WPI, although welcome, are sometimes difficult to process, says Leach. “We want to make sure they don’t come with unreasonable expectations or obligations, and that any budgetary or facility implications are manageable and acceptable.”
Such gifts are not of the “it’s the size of a candy box” variety. Some equipment requires expanded doorways, a designated power supply, a clean room environment, or may even come with chemicals.
One of the more recent gifts-in-kind came from Sweden-based Tobii Technology, a world leader in eye-tracking technology, that recently gave equipment discounts for the new eye-tracking UXDM lab. “Between Tobii, the university, and Dyn, we outfitted that lab,” says Leach, noting the generous financial backing of Dynamic Network Services Inc. “And Tobii is excited by the training going on and about what the students are researching.”
Soussan Djamasbi, director and founder of the UXDM lab and associate professor of management information systems in the School of Business, says the new lab creates an environment for competitive and innovative research that is important to WPI. The resulting research opportunities help by “facilitating an incredibly valuable learning environment for training the next generation of UX experts, for whom there is a growing market demand,” she says.