Newly established fund helps student doing summer research

While they were students at Ripon College, both Mark Franzen ’83 and Janice Heinz Franzen ’83 conducted research and found the experience to be positive. “We think research can be an important part of a liberal arts education,” Mark Franzen says. “Janice and I both had wonderful relationships with our professors when we were at Ripon.”

Now of New Berlin, Wisconsin, the couple have established the Franzen Student Research Fund. The fund is administered by the vice president and dean of faculty and supports students who wish to conduct research with Ripon faculty members by providing fixed allowances known as stipends, covering travel funds or equipment funds, among other things.

“We hope this will give more students a chance to work directly with professors on original research projects,” Mark Franzen says.

The first student to receive assistance from the Franzens’ fund was Ben Mead ’17 of Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Mead worked with Professor of Religion Brian Smith this summer, studying the lack of racial diversity in Christian congregations. He explored biblical, historical and social reasons for this phenomenon.

“Through these three areas of research, I hope to create a context for addressing the issue of continued racial segregation facing churches in America today as well as provide potential solutions to some of the social issues preventing multiculturalism in churches in the United States,” Mead says.

He plans to present his findings at the 2016 meeting of the Midwest American Academy of Religion (MAAR). “I believe that this research is of great value to the campus and can’t wait to share my findings with fellow students and faculty,” he says.

Mead expresses his gratitude to the Franzens. “The endowment has helped me a great deal,” he says. “It has always been a goal of mine to be able to participate in independent research at the undergraduate level, and the endowment has made this dream a reality. I’m very grateful that Ripon College, unlike many larger schools where research opportunities and funds are in short supply, has the resources available to help undergraduates pursue their academic goals and prepare them for future academic research in higher education.”

The Franzens are pleased to hear their endowment already has helped a student do research. They hope that Mead and students in the future will cherish their experiences with research as much as the Franzens cherished their own.

Megan Sohr ’18
Oshkosh, Wisconsin


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