Holy Cross Receives Mellon Foundation Grants for Two Projects to Support Teaching and Research

Center for Teaching and Learning as well as 10 new student-faculty research projects to begin this summer

WORCESTER, Mass. – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the College of the Holy Cross grants totaling $217,630 to support two exciting initiatives to support teaching and research at the undergraduate liberal arts institution.

In announcing the funding, Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J., president of the College, said:  “Holy Cross is committed to excellence in teaching and to providing the means for our students to engage in independent scholarly research across the disciplines.  This generous support from the Mellon Foundation will enhance opportunities on campus for professors and students alike.”

With a Mellon grant of $150,000, the College will launch a new Center for Teaching and Learning.  The center, under the direction of the Dean’s Office, will offer a range of resources, technical assistance, and support.   Among the programs likely to be sponsored by the center are workshops led by both Holy Cross professors and outside experts; a faculty lunch series addressing best practices; extended summer orientation sessions for new faculty members; and opportunities for faculty members themselves to propose individual projects, conferences, and materials.  The Mellon funding will enable Holy Cross to underwrite the center’s work beginning this summer and continuing at a steadily increasing level through 2013.

Timothy R. Austin, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, said the new center will ensure that Holy Cross faculty are aware of the very latest strategies and resources for promoting truly effective learning.   “Today’s college classrooms, laboratories and art studios are constantly evolving,” he said.  “Developments in the wider world account for many of the changes—from the explosive growth of electronic communication to the social effects of the recent economic crisis. Others result from increasing demands on faculty members to teach in a student-centered way, to advise students on a wide range of concerns, and to conduct their own scholarly research.”

Additionally, a Mellon grant of $67,630 will fund 10 student-faculty research projects in the humanities and social sciences.  Faculty working in disciplines ranging from anthropology to classics to political science will mentor students working on research over the nine-week summer program.

Since 1990, Holy Cross has offered a highly successful summer research program for students in the natural sciences, mathematics, psychology and economics.  The new initiative extends the same research opportunities—and explores new research models beyond laboratory work—to student-faculty teams in other disciplines.

Mary Ebbott, associate professor of classics, will serve as coordinator of this summer’s research program, which will be considered a pilot program for future expansion.  “The faculty-student teams will undertake projects that are at the forefront of new thinking about undergraduate research,” she said.  “Students will be actively involved in and contributors to the research, whether it is translating archival texts, studying the creative process, conducting anthropological fieldwork, or digitizing an ancient manuscript.”