By Laura Butler

For the past few months, numerous people on campus have dreaded hearing the words “Eastern” and “money” in the same sentence for fear that a seemingly never-ending, depressing conversation would follow, centered upon the dreaded phrase “budget cuts.” However, students and faculty in the chemistry department and forensic science program can use “Eastern” and “money” in a sentence with smiles on their faces.Eastern’s department of chemistry was awarded $295,200 from the federal government on March 3. This money will most likely be available for use to the forensic science program in October, the beginning of the federal fiscal year, said Kendra Stewart, associate professor of government. Every year, institutions can contact their congressmen to get money for special projects and their general funds, Stewart said.

Stewart said the university submitted a request for this money about a year and half ago, with help from Andy Schoolmaster, then dean of arts and science, and other members of the Glasser administration. The team created an application for an earmark, a portion of money set aside by Congress for public projects, through Sixth District Congressman Ben Chandler. The application for the earmark had to pass through several levels of the federal government, including President Bush, which Stewart said is a great feat.

“President Bush is not in favor of the use of earmarks to provide funding for local projects with federal money,” Stewart said. “He vetoed a lot of the applications for our area, so for ours to pass is really a great thing.”

The $295,200 award will benefit both the chemistry department as a whole and the forensic science program, said Diane Vance, director of Eastern’s forensic science program.

“We plan to use the money to replace our microscopes, most of which were purchased 30 years ago,” Vance said. “We’ll also use some of the money to upgrade from our existing software and instruments to new, up-to-date equipment which will provide an incredible opportunity for our students.”

Stewart said the award will not only benefit Eastern students, but will enrich the local community as well. “This money provides the potential for Eastern to have a large impact, as science has been falling short in the United States,” she said. “We especially need this boost for Kentucky.”

Eastern’s forensic science program is one of only 11 accredited programs in the nation-a fact Vance said makes the award invaluable to the program.

“Keeping the instruments working is a constant struggle in and of itself as the chemistry department is the most expensive to operate, so this money is really going to help,” Vance said. “The forensic science program was established in 1974 here at Eastern and since then, we’ve produced 300 well-qualified graduates. This program is part of what makes Eastern unique.