The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded two grants totalling $7 million to the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM). The grants will have a major impact throughout the ACM by funding post-doctoral fellowships on ACM campuses and supporting a wide range of new consortial initiatives in off-campus study, faculty development, and other areas.
“Coming as the ACM Board of Directors finalizes a Strategic Action Plan to guide the beginning of the consortium’s next 50 years, this generous and visionary support is very timely,” said ACM President Christopher Welna. “It is a decisive vote of confidence in ACM’s future.”
Post-doctoral Fellowships to attract scholar/teachers
The ACM-Mellon Post-doctoral Fellowships, supported by a $4 million grant, will place new PhDs in the arts, humanities, and humanities-related social sciences in two-year teaching and research residencies at ACM colleges. The program aims to attract excellent Post-doctoral Fellows from the top research universities in the U.S. and make a compelling case to them about the desirability of a professional career engaged in both undergraduate teaching and research at liberal arts colleges.
The program will provide opportunities for ACM colleges to bring in Fellows with expertise in newly emerging fields, so they can help to energize the research life on campus, enrich the curricular offerings of academic departments, expand collaboration with research universities, and increase individualized student instruction and research.
The grant program is expected to support up to 26 Fellows over the next five to six years. The Fellowships will be distributed among the ACM colleges through a competitive process in which the individual colleges will search for and hire the Fellows, while the ACM office will administer the program competition. Campus-based mentoring, with consortial orientation and workshops, will provide the Fellows a rich introduction to teaching and research careers at residential liberal arts colleges.
Endowment to support innovative and cost-effective collaboration
The second grant, for $3 million, will establish an endowment to help support the ACM office in Chicago as it identifies and develops opportunities for innovative and cost-effective collaboration. As ACM continues to take a leading role in off-campus study for liberal arts students, the consortium is also expanding its collaborations in professional development for faculty and staff at the member colleges.
Future projects may include:
- Integrating on-campus and off-campus teaching, learning and research;
- Creating tools for assessing educational outcomes for students on ACM’s off-campus study programs;
- Collaboration to offer less commonly taught languages;
- Expanding interaction among faculty on different ACM campuses;
- Creating a program of short-term appointments for performing artists in residence at ACM colleges;
- Enhancing collaboration in institutional research and faculty recruitment;
- Fostering interaction among students from ACM colleges through academic and co-curricular events.
The list above is just a beginning. The endowment award will help the ACM expand its organizational capacity to develop new grant proposals and undertake new projects in response to fresh ideas and emerging opportunities, without having to compromise programmatic objectives or tax the member colleges or grantors more heavily to cover the administrative costs.