McDaniel College Awarded Mellon Grant to Establish Center for Faculty Excellence

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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded McDaniel College of Westminster, Maryland, a $200,000 grant supporting the College's commitment to faculty development and curriculum revision. The grant enables the College to establish the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) and new programs in two areas critical to the success of a revised curriculum to begin in fall 2007: The Sophomore Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium and the Junior Writing Experience.

The grant, the second in three years, is a big vote of confidence from an outside agency that really counts

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded McDaniel College of Westminster, Maryland, a $200,000 grant supporting the College's commitment to faculty development and curriculum revision. The grant enables the College to establish the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) and new programs in two areas critical to the success of a revised curriculum to begin in fall 2007: The Sophomore Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium and the Junior Writing Experience.

Specifically, the grant provides the following:

  •     For the Center for Faculty Excellence: to appoint from among the faculty a director of the CFE and establish a preliminary operational budget.
  •     For the Sophomore Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium: to appoint two faculty Coordinators, to offer training and professional development workshops for participants, and to provide modest summer stipends for up to 30 faculty members for course development projects.
  •     For the Junior Writing Experience: to appoint from among the faculty a Director of College Writing, to offer a series of professional development workshops on writing pedagogy, and to provide modest summer stipends for up to 20 faculty across departments who are engaged in developing projects for the Junior Writing Experience.

"The grant, the second in three years, is a big vote of confidence from an outside agency that really counts," President Joan Develin Coley said of the Mellon Foundation. "The funds will support initiatives that will lead McDaniel College to academic excellence."

CFE will support the work of faculty with attention to teaching and advising, curricular development, student-faculty collaboration, and experiential learning. It will help faculty continue to develop challenging coursework in preparation for the new curriculum, which is designed to emphasize intellectual skills crucial to graduates: critical thinking, cogent writing, analytic reading, persuasive public speaking, effective collaboration, and the ability to adapt to change and bridge cultural differences.

The new curriculum features a distinctive academic experience each year. The Sophomore Colloquium is comprised of collaboratively taught courses that will introduce students to a range of disciplinary perspectives. In the junior year, as students immerse themselves in their majors, they will engage in a writing program tailored to support their growth as writers in their respective fields.

"The new curriculum will offer abundant opportunities to provide our students a base of genuine knowledge about the world they will enter," says Provost and Dean of the Faculty Tom Falkner.

The current process to revamp the curriculum began in 2003 with a $48,000 Officer's Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation that prompted the faculty to examine current course requirements in light of the changing global marketplace. Courses in the new curriculum fall not under subjects or departments, but under categories that describe specific approaches to knowledge: Scientific Inquiry, Quantitative Reasoning, Social, Cultural and Historical Understanding, Textual Analysis, and Creative Expression.

The New York-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seeks to build, strengthen and sustain institutions and their core capacities by developing thoughtful, long-term collaborations with grant recipients to achieve meaningful results.

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Michele Leiberman
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