6/26/2014

Curricular Innovation Grant Boosts F&M Faculty Center Funding to $1.1 Million

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Julia Ferrante, julia.ferrante@fandm.edu, 717-291-4062
LANCASTER, Pa. —
  • Professors participate in a workshop organized by the new Franklin & Marshall College Faculty Center. The College has received $1.17 million in grants to support the center since its opening in fall 2013. (Photo by Melissa Hess)

Across the country, colleges are rising to the challenge of identifying tools and strategies to prepare today's students for success in an increasingly global, knowledge-based society.

An ongoing commitment to preparing faculty to meet this challenge has earned Franklin & Marshall College's new Faculty Center a $250,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. The award brings total support for the center to $1.17 million from various sources.

The new grant, specifically designated for curricular innovation, will help F&M's faculty develop new courses and refine existing ones, incorporate new knowledge from emerging disciplines and pedagogical techniques into their classes, and work collaboratively with colleagues to craft disciplinary courses.

"It is exciting to see this national recognition of our faculty’s excellence, and to receive such enthusiastic support for one of the College's highest strategic priorities: enhancing our extraordinary teaching and learning tradition and fueling knowledge, discovery and artistic creation," F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield said.

The grant, in combination with a $700,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation award for operational support, a previous $120,000 Mellon Foundation planning grant, and a $100,000 New President's Grant that Porterfield dedicated to the center, will support faculty research on- and off-campus, promote ongoing collaboration among faculty, and bolster efforts to bring to the College scholars from a range of disciplines to give workshops on innovative teaching.

"In the months ahead, the center's newly appointed director, Amy Mulnix, and the provost's office will work to structure a process through which faculty may seek support for curriculum innovation efforts in the coming years," Porterfield said.

In announcing the grant, Arthur Vining Davis President Nancy J. Cable commended the College for its commitment to academic excellence. She cited F&M’s institutional strength, along with the quality and potential impact of the proposed curriculum innovation fund as reasons for the Foundations' philanthropic support.

"A guiding principle of Arthur Vining Davis' philanthropy is the importance of intellectual life in the nation," Cable said. "Our investment in Franklin & Marshall's curricular innovation is an affirmation that we believe the College is among the leaders in defining what high-quality intellectual vigor means in America." 

Based in Jacksonville, Fla., and named after American industrialist Arthur Vining Davis, the foundation awards private higher education grants for programs that target undergraduates, and that seek to advance academic quality; establish new, innovative practices; or solve persistent issues.

William Keator, the foundation's vice president for programs, said that the College's planned use of the funds for the Faculty Center is "a tremendous fit" with the foundation's "emphasis on translating thought leadership into practical effective action."

Launched in fall 2013 following a faculty-led planning process, the center focuses on faculty development, and supports, sustains and celebrates professors in their roles as teachers, scholars and college citizens. Located in newly renovated space on the second floor of the Shadek-Fackenthal Library on campus, the center was among the strategic priorities of the College endorsed by the faculty and approved by the College's Board of Trustees last spring.

In its first year, under the leadership of Interim Director and Associate Professor of Anthropology Mary Ann Levine and Associate Director and Professor of Geosciences Carol de Wet, the center hosted faculty writing circles and sponsored a series of post-sabbatical research talks. In addition, the center coordinated workshops on the following topics: developing courses for the College's new Connections curriculum that will be implemented in the fall of 2014; teaching international students; community-based learning; preparing for junior faculty leave; and applying for grants and fellowships.

Mulnix, who most recently served as Earlham College's professor of biology and associate academic dean, was named the first permanent director in May. She will begin her new role at F&M on July 1. At Earlham, Mulnix earned a reputation as a strong teacher and administrator who is particularly involved in developing active learning techniques for the teaching of science. Porterfield said Mulnix presented a compelling vision for the Faculty Center that integrates emphases on teaching, scholarship and community involvement. Levine will continue as associate director.

In March, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded F&M $700,000 to provide operating support for the center over the next four years while the College builds the center into the operating budget and seeks more external support through foundation grants and through an upcoming comprehensive fundraising campaign. In addition, to help fund the development of the center, Porterfield chose to direct a Mellon Foundation New President's Grant to launch the center’s first year of operations in the recently concluded academic year.  

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