Denison Shares Two Grants For Faculty Development
Posted: September 16, 2003
Current and future generations of Denison faculty could find their career paths and opportunities for advancement improved, thanks to two recent four-year grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
One of the grants, in the amount of $2.5 million, is to be shared with seven other national liberal arts colleges across the country; while the other grant, for $650,000, is to be shared with only one of that group. Both grants are intended to help faculty members remain fresh in their careers and involved in their professions.
"These initiatives address Denison's interest in sustaining quality teaching by investing in faculty development," said Denison President Dale T. Knobel in expressing his appreciation to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its generous support. "This emphasis is sure to produce substantial benefits, and I predict the results at all eight colleges will be examples for other institutions to study."
The eight national liberal arts schools sharing the $2.5 million grant are Denison, DePauw University (Indiana), Furman University (South Carolina), Harvey Mudd College (California), Middlebury College (Vermont), Rhodes College (Tennessee), Scripps College (California) and Vassar College (New York). Denison shares the $650,000 grant with DePauw.
"Both grants will help us get at one of the central issues facing higher education today," said Denison Provost David Anderson, "namely, how to help faculty members continue to 'grow' in terms of developing new courses, adapting to new technologies, and learning new teaching methods. Colleges like Denison have long concentrated on hiring the very best faculty we can find; this support from the Mellon Foundation moves us to another level of being able to continue nurturing these people and helping them develop."
Theeight-college grantwill provide for aDean's Career Enhancement Fundat each institution. This fund is to cover such items as travel expenses for junior faculty to visit mentors or conduct research, tuition for faculty members who need to learn a new skill, equipment for faculty research, attendance at conferences, and research assistants to allow individual faculty members to complete projects.
Also to be provided is a fund forLocal Initiatives, such as supplementing sabbatical stipends, additional released time before or after the sabbatical itself, post-doctoral scholar visits, and "faculty college" (a small-group intensive learning experience for faculty).
Finally, the eight-college grant will also provide for a number ofInter-Institutional Initiativessuch as collaborative international travel for faculty, "floating" faculty seminars for which groups of faculty travel to all participating institutions to make presentations, and faculty workshops wherein all participating institutions send faculty to a host campus for a weekend workshop on a set topic.
Thetwo-college grantis to provide programs that can be shared by institutions that are relatively near each other geographically. Denison and DePauw will collaborate onStrengthening Intellectual Communitiesvia colloquia, reading and discussion groups, one-on-one mentoring programs between junior and senior faculty, and guest speakers.
AVenture Fundis to benefit faculty members who want to do research to develop a new course or otherwise take a new direction in teaching. This fund could also support team-teaching collaborations, support "retooling" for faculty members who need to travel to re-charge a flagging career, and provide funding for a shared visiting professor who would spend time at each campus.
By far the largest portion of the two-college grant is to go to an initiative on theStrategic Allocation of Faculty Timeunder which faculty members would earn additional sabbatical time. Traditionally, faculty get a semester off after six years of full-time teaching. That could be lengthened.
"It is clear that the need formore timeis very important to our faculty members," said Provost Anderson. "It is clear, however, that merely freeing up hours in the day, in the absence of a context for the use of those hours, fails to address the problem sufficiently. If time is freed in the service of specific results, one is much more likely to reap the benefits of 'more time' in terms of career-related achievements and satisfaction."
Programs covered by the two Mellon grants begin this academic year (2003-2004) and continue through the 2006-2007 academic year.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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