Campus / News / April 25, 2012

College Mellon grant funds nearly spent

The Mellon Foundation grant that has supported faculty research in the past three years will soon be used up.

The grant allowed faculty to “initiate more ambitious and more costly proposals,” according to Dean of the College Lawrence Breitborde.

The college has a small amount of money built into the operational budget each year to fund faculty research, but the pool of money available will be greatly reduced without the supplemental support from the foundation.

Although the grant has “really been helpful to a lot of people,” Breitborde said, the grant was always going to only be for a short period of time.

One of the recipients of the Mellon funds, Professor of History Catherine Denial, would not have been able to travel to the archives she needed to complete her research about the ways the Dakota and Ojibwa resisted the influence of white imperialism.

“It was an amazing opportunity. It made it possible for me to write my book at the speed that I did,” she said.

Knox has received multiple grants from the Mellon Foundation, in the past, including grants to revise the core curriculum, meet digital needs of classrooms around campus and create the Center for Research and Advanced Study.

This most recent grant was initiated by Breitborde, sharing with the Foundation his concern that “we have a very engaged faculty … the level of production has been disproportionately higher than the resources the college had to support it.”

The foundation agreed to supplement the college’s resources for faculty research.

The grant not only helped faculty but allowed students to work alongside and benefit from faculty research.

“That kind of commitment and that kind of engagement … creates opportunities for students,” Breitborde said.

A lasting impact of the grant will be shifting the decisions about faculty research proposals from the dean to a faculty committee.

“This grant would allow us to try a different type of process,” Breitborde said. The Mellon Advisory Group was created to allow faculty to review the research proposals of their peers, a system closely resembling that of other institutions.

“That process, if involving … a faculty group in distributing funds [is] better than having the Dean dishing them out,” Breitborde said. “It turned out to be, I think, a really good process.”

Denial also saw the committee as a good way of distributing funds and informing the faculty of the research of their colleagues.

“It’s very good for sustaining our sense of community,” she said.

Although there are no specific grants that will replace the Mellon Foundation grant, according to Breitborde, the college continues the never-ending process of finding and applying for outside grant funding.

Gretchen Walljasper

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