Foothill-de-Anza, USF Awarded $2.145M for Humanities Program

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Creates bachelor’s degree pathway for community college students in humanities

The Humanities Mellon Scholars Program responds to a growing need for professionals who are skilled in the practices of inquiry and habits of cultural analysis that lead to innovation, sustainability and entrepreneurship.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $2.145 million in grants to the Foothill-De Anza Community College District and the University of San Francisco for a new transfer program to help underserved and underrepresented students earn four-year degrees in the humanities.

The grants will support Humanities Mellon Scholars at Foothill College and De Anza College by providing students with a strong two-year foundation in the humanities, and assisting them with resources to transfer to four-year college degree programs. The program also provides collaborative teaching and research opportunities for Foothill-De Anza and USF faculty.

A collaboration between Foothill-De Anza and USF, the Humanities Mellon Scholars Program responds to a growing need for professionals who are skilled in the practices of inquiry and habits of cultural analysis that lead to innovation, sustainability and entrepreneurship. The study of humanities traces humanity’s search for life’s meaning by examining the products of culture including the visual arts, literature, film and philosophical thought.

Seventy students a year will be selected to take part in the program, which begins in fall 2017. A launch event is planned for April 13.

“Study of the humanities is essential to students’ development as global citizens and can even serve as a countermeasure to the decreased civility in our society,” said Judy C. Miner, chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. “It deepens critical thinking, encourages social responsibility, and contributes to character development, qualities that are so critical in the world today. The knowledge and values that evolve from studying humanities are a good match with the traits that employers say they want in their employees. We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for helping us launch this exceptional and timely program.”

Donald E. Heller, provost and vice president of academic affairs at USF, said he welcomes the partnership with Foothill-de Anza and the opportunity to help students advance their education.

“USF is thrilled to ensure that students from across the economic spectrum have the opportunity to achieve a four-year degree in the humanities,” Heller said. “With Mellon Foundation support, the faculties of the college district and the university will be able to engage in research and develop more effective humanities pedagogy to help students develop life-long practices of critical thinking and social responsibility. This will further not just their own futures, but the common good. We look forward to welcoming Humanities Mellon Scholars to USF.”

Pathways to a bachelor’s degree

The Mellon Foundation grants will fund enrichment activities, applied learning opportunities, and support services designed to increase the transfer success of participating students. Students in the program will have designated faculty advisors, financial support for the purchase of textbooks and other course material, and paid internships where they can apply the knowledge and problem-solving abilities they’ve gained through their humanities course study.

At Foothill and De Anza colleges, Humanities Mellon Scholars will complete university transfer requirements and take courses that fulfill the degree requirements of their chosen majors. They will also complete a 20-unit course pattern in the humanities leading to a certificate of achievement in humanities.

The program includes a guaranteed transfer pathway for students who wish to continue their studies for a bachelor’s degree at USF’s College of Arts and Sciences in either the Honors Program in the Western and Global Humanities or the Saint Ignatius Institute Program. Up to 20 students annually will receive a USF scholarship of up to $10,000 a year in addition to other financial aid they may receive, and will be eligible for research assistant positions, paid summer internships, course materials, conference travel funds, and a special Mellon Scholars graduation ceremony.

Students who complete the Foothill-De Anza Humanities Mellon Scholars Program also will meet the eligibility requirements for transfer into the University of California and California State university systems.

Organizers anticipate that 280 Foothill-De Anza students will join the Humanities Mellon Scholars Program over the four-and-a-half years of the grants. The Mellon Foundation awarded $1,465,453 to Foothill-De Anza and $679,547 to USF to carry out the program.

The coordinators for the Humanities Mellon Scholars are Falk Cammin, Foothill College humanities instructor, and Eileen Fung, associate dean for arts and humanities in USF’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Funding also supports faculty scholarship in interdisciplinary approach

In addition to supporting student success, grant funds also will be used for collaborative faculty-driven activities that strengthen and expand the impact of humanities programs. Activities will include an annual Humanities in Collaboration National Mellon Conference to be held at USF for higher education and high school educators to explore collaborative approaches to the study of humanities. The grants also establish the Mellon Scholar Faculty Research Award for research on interdisciplinary approaches.

The Humanities Mellon Scholars Program aims to become a model for other institutions wishing to increase interest and engagement in the humanities by identifying best practices for transfer pathways, mentoring, and retaining transfer students from community colleges to four-year institutions.

“The study of humanities helps develop our understanding of how the concepts of knowledge, reality, the imagination, and the nature of beauty contribute to our sense of the world and to our human experience,” said Cammin, coordinator of the Humanities Mellon Scholars Program for Foothill-De Anza. “Studying the records of human experience enables students to acquire lifelong practices of inquiry that foster deep knowledge and wisdom about the past and present, which guides us in imagining our future.”

About Foothill-De Anza Community College District

Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and De Anza College in Cupertino attract about 60,000 students a year from throughout the region for university transfer and career preparation in a caring and supportive environment. Some 71 percent of Foothill-De Anza students identify as African American, Asian, Filipino or Latino, reflecting the great diversity of Silicon Valley. The Foothill-De Anza Community College District has one of the highest university transfer rates in California.

About the University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world’s most innovative and diverse cities and is home to a vibrant academic community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields. Its diverse student body enjoys direct access to faculty, small classes, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is San Francisco’s first university, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student’s passion for social justice and a desire to “Change the World from Here.” For more information, please visit usfca.edu.

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies. To this end, it supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.

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