By: John Wyatt – Section Editor
Centre has always had a successful history of receiving gifts from various donors and foundations. Last year, Centre received two new grants, one from the Mellon Foundation and the other from the James Graham Brown Foundation, and is now in the process of implementing funding from these new grants.
The grant from the Mellon Foundation (a $600,000 grant) focuses on experiential learning and will be available to students through the summer of 2017. “There are two key goals of the Mellon Grant for Undergraduate Research. The first is increasing the number of students who participate in undergraduate research with faculty both during the academic year as well in the summer. The second is increasing the opportunities for undergraduate research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences,” Benjamin Knoll, Assistant Professor of Politics and Grant Coordinator, said.
Implementation of the Mellon grant is already underway. “The most immediate and direct result of this grant is that the budget for student travel to present their work at professional conferences has been tripled using grant funds. There is now $15,000 per year to help fund travel and conference registration fees for students,” Knoll said.
Knoll also mentioned other, more long-term initiatives being implemented as a result of the Mellon grant. “The grant funded a group of six faculty members to work throughout the fall to study and recommend ways that undergraduate research can be incorporated into existing classes or through curricular revisions to major requirements. Some of these will begin next year in the Chinese/Japanese and History programs.
“Another initiative currently underway is that of three spring ‘research preparation’ courses for students doing summer research. Students are enrolled in those courses this semester and getting training on research approaches and methods that will enable them to be more prepared for their summer projects.”
Knoll warned that while this new grant does not guarantee a student a research project. “It’s up to students to be proactive in seeking out these opportunities. Seek out professors who share your academic interests and learn about the types of projects that they are working on and what types of opportunities might be available. Professors usually invite students that they’ve known for several semesters and have done impressive work in their classes.”
The Mellon grant is not the only grant Centre received in the past year. Centre also received a $500,000 grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation. The Brown grant will focus on increasing experiential education opportunities for students, which include internships, summer research programs, and community-based learning.
“This grant will enable us to do for academic internships and community-based learning what the Mellon Grant will enable us to do for undergraduate research. They complement each other so well,” Stephanie Fabritius, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, said in an article published on Centre’s webpage back in September.
The Brown Grant will make possible the creation of a new position: Coordinator of Engaged and Experiential Learning. The new position will be responsible for assessing and tracking internships, summer research, and community-based learning. The new Coordinator will also help facilitate discussions about implementing new practices related to the areas the Brown grant covers.
Both grants show Centre’s commitment to expanding a student’s learning beyond the classroom. “Significant grants from foundations like Mellon and Brown provide support for good, dynamic programs and initiatives that otherwise might be delayed or, worse yet, not occur,” President John Roush said. “In addition, support from these foundations makes a clear statement that Centre College is a place providing leadership in the American academy; a place deserving of their support; a place of prestige and high accomplishment. Centre’s focus with such gifts has been to strengthen the College’s support of its faculty and its students – both of which are foundation pieces of our strategic planning effort.”
Be on the lookout for new opportunities in these areas, and be sure to take advantage of current ones already offered by Centre.