2007 Annual Report: President's Report



Dr. Atomic, John Adams's opera based on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, was performed at the Lyric Opera in Chicago in December of 2007, supported in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  It provides but one example of the ways in which opera can be genuinely engaging intellectually as well as artistically—indeed, an example of why the "intellectual" and the "artistic" should not be understood as separate categories.  Of course, one could read the recent biography of Oppenheimer to learn about his place in the development of the atomic bomb.  Theater and music, however, can make more powerful, both intellectually and emotionally, a personal response to matters still very much worth thinking about.

The Foundation's support of such a production derives from a continuing belief that the arts are not mere entertainment intended only for the well-to-do.  The arts speak to our humanity and contribute powerfully to our understanding of ourselves and of one another.  The same should be said of the objects of study, including the arts, that make up the humanities.  Even in a world beset by daunting problems and too much human misery, the arts and humanities require and deserve resources, and in the grand scheme of things, the amounts are not so very large.  But one sign of the times can be found in the President's budget for the fiscal year 2009.  Funds for the National Endowment for the Humanities are recommended to decrease by .2 percent, and funds for the National Endowment for the Arts are recommended to decrease by 11.5 percent.  Funds for public broadcasting are to be cut in half.

The landscape in higher education generally—the site of the greatest part of activity in the humanities—is similarly discouraging, especially in public higher education.  Some of the nation's very best—which is to say the world’s very best—public institutions face substantial reductions in resources in the coming year.  This is, of course, prompted by declining state revenues brought on by current economic conditions.  But the public should be wary of reducing investment in higher education, even or especially in a weak economy, since, quite apart from its intrinsic value, that investment is the single best defense against a weakened economy and weakened global competitiveness in the long run.

To judge by worldwide demand over a span of a century or more, higher education is the single most successful business the United States has ever engaged in.  Nevertheless, the nation has for some years now been in danger of systematically eroding that leadership through disinvestment.  At the same time, a rising chorus of voices urges that this is the business that needs more government regulation.  In this view, government officials should control prices, specify some of the ways in which internal resources are allocated, and certify educational outcomes.  For those who remember that at one time it was essentially against the law for banks to lose money, this current appetite for the regulation of our most successful and valuable industry seems at a minimum misplaced.

Higher education is in fact already rather heavily regulated, and the increasing costs of complying with that regulation contribute substantially to the increasing cost of higher education to parents and students.  This is especially true in the pursuit of science and thus in the largest and the wealthiest universities where the major part of scientific research in the national interest is carried on.  And this is but one of the respects in which the scientific enterprise is heavily subsidized by these institutions.  The federal government has never paid the full cost of research in universities, despite the apparently large amounts universities receive in research grants, and it has steadily worked at shifting a greater share of this cost to the institutions themselves.  The resulting subsidy to the scientific research effort comes ultimately from private sources—a combination of philanthropy and other unrestricted resources, one of which is undergraduate tuition.  Thus, leading institutions of higher education are asked to shoulder the burden not only of access to higher education but also of the scientific research that is crucial to the nation's prosperity as well as to the full exercise of its intellectual powers.  A move to mandate the reallocation of resources to either one will necessarily be at the expense of the other to some degree.  Both ought to be national priorities.

These sound like the views of a former university president, as indeed they are.  But why should The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and its president care about all of this?  Because much the largest share of our grantmaking goes to institutions of higher education, and the Foundation thus has a broad perspective on and a deep engagement with higher education generally.  And if the picture of higher education painted by those advocating greater regulation is really accurate, why should the Foundation use its resources in this way?  One extreme view is that when foundations give to private higher education (and other cultural organizations), it is simply the rich giving to the rich at the expense of the taxpayer, since the wealth of both has been accumulated through tax exemptions.

Here higher education intersects with another unique feature of the United States—the culture of private philanthropy.  This culture exists in no other country in the world to anything like the same extent.  And it is this culture that is largely responsible for the creation and support of the institutions of higher education that have set the standard of quality for this country and the world.  These institutions were at first exclusively private institutions.  Over time some public institutions joined their ranks in terms of quality.  But even the best public institutions are today supported in very considerable degree by private rather than public resources.  In some leading public institutions, state funds have sunk to the range of 10-15 percent of total budgets.  The result, then, is that the greatest system of higher education in the world has been created and sustained by the strongest culture of philanthropy in the world.  What is there about this that needs fixing?

The short form of the complaint about higher education goes as follows: It costs too much, the cost is rising too fast, and many institutions are hoarding increasing wealth at public expense when they should be using that wealth to make higher education more readily accessible to the less well-to-do.  Specific proposals include imposing sanctions of various kinds on institutions that raise tuition faster than some benchmark and mandating higher fixed  percentages of expenditures from endowments.  These efforts are fueled further by reports in the press of a handful of private institutions with very large endowments that between about 2002 and late 2007 were growing at very substantial rates.

The principal problem with this picture is that it fails to take account of the enormous variety among the 4,000 or so institutions of higher education in the country—public and private, large and small, the very few truly wealthy, and all of the rest.  For example, the oft-cited figures for the average rate of increase in tuition are driven by the increases at public institutions, where the base is in general quite low and thus the dollar amount of increases relatively small.  And these increases are often a direct response to state budget cuts.  But when these percentage rates of increase are conflated with the much higher tuition at private institutions, the public may conclude that rich private institutions are gouging students and their parents.

Similar imprecision obtains in discussions of endowments.  To gain a good sense of the wealth that a college or university endowment represents, one must divide the endowment by the number of students that it supports in any given institution.  And if one's concern is primarily with the cost of undergraduate education, one must further ask what fraction of the total student population in any institution is made up of undergraduates and what fraction of the endowment is legally restricted to purposes other than undergraduate education.  Thus, an institution with a major medical school, one or more associated hospitals, a business school, and a law school (to name only a few of the kinds of professional schools to be encountered) will have major portions of its endowment that are simply not legally available to address anything having to do with undergraduate education or undergraduate financial aid.  Such questions lead inexorably to the conclusion that not even every institution with a multibillion dollar endowment is wealthy enough to reduce undergraduate tuition substantially or to offer greater amounts of financial aid.  In the end, the nation has four truly wealthy institutions, and these are separated from all of the remainder by a notable gap.

Changes in financial aid policy on the part of the truly wealthy institutions, however, will often inspire other institutions to adopt policies that in some respects they cannot really afford.  This has the effect of putting even more upward pressure on tuition in these institutions.  For them, most undergraduate financial aid comes not from endowment but from tuition itself.  That is, a significant part of the financial aid for undergraduates who qualify for it in terms of need comes from the tuition paid by students judged not to be in need of financial aid.  This is purely and simply a form of income redistribution.  And calls for universities with sizable endowments to spend more of them on reducing tuition and or increasing financial aid are purely and simply calls for changing the formula of income redistribution.  This is to say that money given or paid to institutions for the most part by relatively wealthier individuals should be directed to the less wealthy.

The redirection of tuition from those who can pay to those who cannot is most pronounced in the poorest institutions, some of which may recycle or "discount" tuition in this way by as much as 50 percent.  Among the institutions where this is practiced most extensively are the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  In these institutions, which the Mellon Foundation has long assisted, the educationally disadvantaged and the economically disadvantaged closely overlap.  Since there are relatively few wealthy students at these institutions, income redistribution here is not from the rich to the poor so much as it is likely to be from the not quite poor to the truly poor.

The question is whether institutions of higher education should be engaged in income redistribution even to the current extent, let alone to a still greater extent.  One might have thought this to be the job of the tax code.  Ironically, many who have called for a still greater redistribution of income on the part of institutions of higher education, especially private institutions, oppose in principle any increase in income redistribution through the tax code.  The fact remains, however, that if money is the obstacle to higher education for a large segment of the population, the remedy will necessarily entail, by one method or another, taking money from those who have it and giving it to those who do not.  No one should pretend that this will be avoided by forcing institutions of higher education to change their spending policies.

A further point should be made with regard to spending from endowment.  Not only are endowments restricted in many different ways that prevent their use for keeping undergraduate tuition low to the degree that all might like.  The stream of income produced by an endowment supports many fixed costs that are not easy to shed from one year to the next.  Thus, every institution needs some kind of smoothing function that keeps the stream of income both inflation proof and deflation proof over very long periods of time independent of the ups and downs of the financial markets.  A fixed, annual percentage rate of spending from endowment would, to be sure, produce more spendable funds in years of strong market performance like the last five or so, but it might force reductions in the dollar amounts available in years of substantial market declines.  Surely it would be undesirable to have the number of scholarships or faculty members fluctuate from year to year, depending on the markets.

Foundations can better tolerate this kind of volatility and do in fact live with a fixed requirement to spend not less that 5 percent of their assets in any given year.  Even in this world, however, the goal might better be to keep the grantmaking budget rising each year at or above the rate of inflation.  This means that in years of strong investment returns, 5 percent might be less than one could reasonably afford, but this would enable paying out substantially more than 5 percent in years of declining investment returns so as to continue growth in the dollar amount of grants.  This is essentially the policy that the Mellon Foundation has followed.  In years of sharply rising markets, the dollar amount of grants has been increased in order to achieve the 5 percent floor.  In years of sharply declining markets, the percentage has increased to above 5 percent so as to enable the dollar amount to rise at least modestly.

This policy reflects the kinds of institutions that we support and the kind of grantmaker that we wish to be.  In general, we support institutions with long histories whose needs will not go away.  And we wish to be reasonably steady in our support of those institutions.  This means that the number and kinds of institutions that we support will not change radically from year to year.  This in turn means that the debates about higher education touched on above will not significantly alter our grantmaking.  We have not in the past nor do we now intend in the future to make grants for undergraduate financial aid, great as the need for that aid is.  Our contribution to keeping the cost of higher education down will be to support work in the humanities and the arts that institutions might not otherwise be able to afford or that might simply lose out in the competition for resources that inhabits every institution.

Our views on supporting doctoral education are quite different.  Among our largest grants in 2007 are several for graduate fellowships in the humanities.  Financial aid for graduate students in these fields is even more scarce than undergraduate financial aid, and these grants will enable talented students to pursue degrees in the humanities at some distinguished universities.  Each of these institutions has been encouraged to develop methods for deploying this aid that suit its own particular needs rather than follow restrictions that might be thought to apply to all institutions equally.

If our support of graduate education in the humanities reflects something of the changing landscape of higher education, it is in the inclusion of a somewhat larger number of distinguished public institutions among the grantees than in the past.  As noted above, such institutions are under increasing financial pressure, and although the Mellon Foundation cannot make good the loss of state support in some of them, we have felt compelled to assist a small number with excellent programs in fields that we care most about.

The fields we care most about are, broadly speaking, primarily the humanities and the arts, which are intimately entwined—or should be—both in higher education and in society more generally.  We care about them because they are inherently valuable human pursuits, and both public and private support for them is relatively meager.  Of course, these activities do have their practical value as well, though that value is often realized only over long horizons.  Much is said about the contribution of the arts to the economy.  And higher education, with the humanities at its core, is both a very big business (about 2.8 percent of GDP; automobiles are about 3.6 percent; furniture about 3 percent) and an investment in the future prosperity of individuals and of society at large.  To take but one concrete example of its value to the nation, the United States would clearly benefit from a much deeper knowledge of other people—their histories, their languages, and their cultures.  We cannot afford to wait until a war breaks out before undertaking to learn about our supposed enemies.  It would be well, too, to have a deep knowledge of the people whom we might hope to have as our allies in such an event.  In that sense, this Foundation is engaged in investing in the deep intellectual infrastructure principally of the United States.  But that intellectual infrastructure is not only valuable in instrumental terms.  It is valuable for its own sake and for the sake of helping each of us understand what kind of life might be worth living.

This brings me back to Dr. Atomic.  Its moral hero is Robert R. Wilson, a physicist who not only made great scientific contributions to the Manhattan Project but who, in the opera, is the principal voice of those who most powerfully confronted the moral dilemma that the effort posed.  Years later he became the founding director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the site of what has remained until now the world's most powerful particle accelerator.  In testimony before Congress on the appropriation of the considerable sums that would be required for construction of the accelerator, he was asked what its contribution to the national defense would be.  He responded, "It has nothing to do directly with defending our country, except to make it worth defending."

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has a similar purpose.  Our goal is to support some of those things that make the nation most worth defending and, further, that make the nation most worthy to be respected and admired by all of the world's peoples.

Don M. Randel
February 2008


In the sections that follow, the Foundation's program staff offer summary accounts of their activities in 2007.

Research Universities and Humanistic Scholarship

Research Universities and Humanistic Scholarship

Overseen by Harriet Zuckerman and Joseph S. Meisel, programs in these areas have three objectives: they support scholars' training and research, mainly through an array of fellowship programs (for graduate students and faculty members at different stages of their careers); assist institutions that sustain scholarship in the humanities, including universities, centers for advanced study, and a number of specialized institutes; and encourage innovative research that offers the possibility of advancing humanistic scholarship in promising directions.  In practice, many individual grants combine at least two, and some all three, of these goals.

Owing to increases in budgetary allocations, it has been possible both to expand programs in place and to undertake new ones.  Last year's Annual Report described a major extension of the Foundation's commitment to graduate education in the humanities.  In partnership with the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council, the Foundation's support for graduate students has been redirected to the later stages of their training where, under current conditions, it is most needed.  These new programs (and related smaller ones funded through other organizations) are competitive by design and aim to reach the best doctoral candidates nationwide.  In 2007, the effort was complemented by a series of endowment grants to support graduate education at institutions with historic distinction in the humanities but where resources were then and continue to be more limited than those their wealthiest peers have been able to devote to these purposes.  In total, the Foundation awarded $30 million to six institutions: $6 million each for the large programs at Columbia University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Chicago; and $3 million each for the smaller programs at Cornell and Johns Hopkins Universities.  The formal terms of these endowments were deliberately broad so that the proceeds could be redeployed to other aspects of graduate training as needed.  Each university was, however, asked to indicate how the funds would be used in the near term.  In the main, these institutions plan in the short term to augment the amount of support they offer to outstanding graduate students and to extend the number of years of graduate study they cover while also increasing resources available for summer research.

These grants were intended not only to strengthen doctoral education in the humanities, but also to respond to the Foundation's concerns in recent years about the consequences of growing disparities in wealth among leading research universities.  As indicated in previous reports, the emergence of a small number of institutions with far greater financial resources than their peers has undermined the beneficial competition that has traditionally existed among universities for leading faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates, developments the mainstream media have also begun to notice. [1]  In response, the Foundation made the first of a series of substantial grants ($2.5 million each) in 2006 that enabled a limited number of excellent but comparatively less well-endowed universities to undertake programs they themselves considered central and that promised to increase their distinctive contributions to the humanities.  In 2007, grants of this kind went to three more universities: to Cornell for new senior professorships; to Berkeley for enhancing the research funds available to associate professors; and to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to reinvigorate and extend its traditional strengths in medieval and early modern studies.

Among other noteworthy activities in 2007, four senior scholars received the Foundation's annual Distinguished Achievement Awards: Ellen Rosand, who specializes in Baroque opera at Yale University; Peter Schäfer, a scholar of Judaism at Princeton University specializing in late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages; Eric Sundquist, a scholar of American literature at UCLA; and Richard White, a historian of the North American West at Stanford University.  Support was also given for an innovative consortium of university-based humanities centers—at Chicago, Columbia, Berkeley, and the University of Cambridge—to pursue a set of activities designed to explore and foster disciplinary innovation in the humanities.  The Foundation's long-term interest in assisting in the preparation of outstanding scholarly editions was represented by grants to support the Correspondence of Charles Darwin and the Benjamin Disraeli Letters projects.

The activities of the Foundation in Research Universities and Humanistic Scholarship have also been extended through collaboration with other program areas.  One illustration involves the successful annual residency of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra at the University of Chicago (with the grant supported by the Research University program in close consultation with staff in the Performing Arts).  In a second more intensive collaboration, involving the Scholarly Communications program, two initiatives that address the problems of scholarly publishing have been undertaken.  One of these deals with publication of first monographs while the other is concerned with the historically complex relationships between university presses and their host institutions.  The former is briefly outlined here; the latter is taken up in the Scholarly Communications section of this report.  In the separate paper that follows this report, Donald J. Waters and Joseph S. Meisel treat in greater compass the current state of scholarly publishing in the United States, its history, prior Foundation efforts in this domain, and the rationales for these initiatives.

Readers will be familiar with the fact that monographs (books that present a sustained argument based on intensive study of a defined set of problems, ideas, materials, or phenomena) are the principal means of disseminating scholarship in most fields of the humanities and that publishing these works with university presses is especially crucial for junior faculty.  Meeting the standards of editorial and peer review of university presses not only certifies the scholarly quality of the published work, it also helps young scholars establish their intellectual bona fides and forms the basis of their claims for professional advancement in promotion and tenure decisions.  In recent decades, however, a number of developments in the academy and the economics of scholarly publishing, described by Waters and Meisel in some detail, have combined to make the publication of monographs in the humanities far more problematic than it once was, particularly in certain fields.  In the current publishing environment, junior faculty arguably suffer more than other scholars because "first books" (generally based on dissertation research) tend to be the least marketable of all monographs.

Recognizing that limited markets present real obstacles to publication and that university presses confront such obstacles in common, this year the Foundation invited 87 US university presses (all those with directors in place) to propose ideas for collaborative projects aimed at expanding the publication of excellent scholarly monographs (typically first books by younger scholars) in both established and emerging areas of humanistic scholarship where publication prospects are poor.  In response, the Foundation received 33 statements of interest involving a total of 66 presses in various combinations.  Ultimately, four projects were selected for funding: the presses of Columbia University and the Universities of California and Chicago for publication of first monographs on South Asian studies; the presses of New York, Fordham, Rutgers, and Temple Universities and the University of Virginia on the English-language literatures of the Americas; the presses of the Universities of Wisconsin and Pittsburgh and Northwestern University on Slavic studies; and the presses of Indiana, Kent State, and Temple Universities on ethnomusicology. [2]

Although these four proposals address different fields and envision somewhat different organizational models, all of these proposals involve the close cooperation of several presses and are designed to publish a larger number of monographs than current economic constraints would otherwise allow them to produce.  The initiative aims to encourage groups of presses to expand publication in fields in which their interests overlap and to develop collaborative activities to achieve economies of scale and to expand markets for their titles.  While grant funds do support some of the costs of the additional volumes to be produced, they are not to serve as subsidies that would plug the gap between the costs and expected revenues of individual titles.  Proposals include plans for strengthening the fields of focus, evaluating the collaborative models, and developing strategies to sustain increased levels of publication over the longer term.  It is hoped that the examples provided by these projects, and what will be learned from the assessment of their outcomes, will ultimately encourage other presses to find ways of placing greater emphasis on the vital scholarly activity of publishing monographs by younger scholars.

Liberal Arts Colleges, Appalachian Colleges, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Liberal Arts Colleges, Appalachian Colleges, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities

The Foundation's Liberal Arts Colleges program provides multiyear grants to liberal arts colleges and to consortia made up of groups of colleges; in recent years it has emphasized research and professional opportunities for faculty members, curricular and pedagogical innovation, and the enhancement of library and information technology resources.  Under the leadership of Philip Lewis and Eugene Tobin, the program was a site of both transition and consolidation in 2007.  It welcomed Dr. Carlotta Arthur, a psychologist, into the program officer's position vacated by Danielle Carr Ramdath, who had directed the program for Appalachian Colleges and HBCUs since 2001.

Throughout the year, the Foundation has continued funding for HBCU programs in the areas of institution building, libraries, and curriculum development.  Working with the United Negro College Fund, Carlotta Arthur has launched a review of the Foundation's programs that support the private historically black colleges and universities; she has also presided over the Foundation's emergency commitments of $3 million to alleviate a financial crisis at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.  Her other major task, also transitional, has been to work on plans for the future with the Appalachian College Association (ACA), whose remarkable founding president, Alice Brown, will pass the baton to her successor, Paul Chewning (currently president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of West Virginia), on July 1.  The Foundation is pleased to acknowledge ACA's extraordinary accomplishments during Alice Brown's nearly three decades of efficacious work and inspiring leadership.  It has grown into a consortium of 37 colleges with assets of $25 million.  Along with many faculty development programs, ACA provides educational support to its members through the Bowen Central Library of Appalachia, a digital library named in honor of the Foundation's former president, William G. Bowen.

In the Liberal Arts Colleges program itself, consolidation of grantmaking activity in a few key categories—curricular innovation (20 grants), presidential leadership (11), faculty career enhancement (10), postdoctoral fellowships (9), and environmental studies (9)—was the order of the day.

The program carried out a modest expansion of the group of colleges and consortia from which it invites proposals, making awards to some 70 grantees in the course of the year.  It was also able, thanks to an increase of $15 million dollars in its annual budget, both to make somewhat larger grants than in the recent past and to entertain requests for funds to endow successful programs at institutions willing to match such grants with their own fundraising efforts.  During the summer and fall, program staff initiated discussions with a half-dozen consortia around the country about further experiments with cooperatively organized academic programs; it also held exploratory conversations about the formation of new consortia in geographical areas where there is an adequate concentration of colleges.

As in 2006, the program received encouraging reports from the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE) and from Emeriti Retirement Health Solutions, both of which continue to expand while providing vital services to liberal arts colleges.  NITLE is close to its goal of financial independence, and in response to Emeriti's gratifying progress, the Foundation has invited it to request a final challenge grant in 2008 that will carry it to financial independence during the next three to five years.

Finally, under the energetic direction of Senior Advisor Susan Perry, and in collaboration with the Council of Independent Colleges, NITLE, and Project Kaleidoscope, the Foundation supported information literacy workshops on the "Transformation of the College Library" and "Learning Spaces and Technology."  In addition, Perry continued her work with US liberal arts colleges in the areas of collaborative collection development while developing new relationships with the American-style liberal arts member institutions of the American International Consortium of Academic Libraries.

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships and Diversity Initiatives

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships and Diversity Initiatives

Both the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) and the Diversity Initiatives programs support qualified students from underrepresented minority groups and other students with demonstrated commitments to diversity who seek doctoral degrees and wish to pursue careers in higher education.  MMUF, directed by Program Officer Lydia English and administered by Associate Director Carma Van Allen, is the broad-based anchor of this effort; it covers specified fields in the humanities, sciences and social sciences.  Among other, more targeted, initiatives that also serve to increase the number of underrepresented scholars among PhDs and to promote new scholarship are Emory University's James Weldon Johnson Visiting Scholars program, which focuses on scholarship of the modern civil rights movement; the American Indian College Fund Faculty Doctoral and Research programs; the Scholars-in-Residence Program and an Undergraduate Summer Humanities Institute at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and Wheaton College's Summer Institute in Literary and Cultural Studies.

In 2007, the Diversity Initiatives program awarded grants to the University of Southern California and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to increase retention and productivity of new and underrepresented faculty.  These efforts seek to establish new national models for mentoring undergraduates and graduate students.  Over the past year, the Foundation's Diversity Initiatives have been extended to the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), which joined MMUF; to the Kohala Center on the Island of Hawai'i, which will offer graduate and postgraduate fellowships for scholarship on Hawaiian history and culture; and to the University of New Mexico, which received support for graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences.  The program has also launched a collaboration with the Foundation's Performing Arts program through a grant to the Sphinx Orchestra.

Several continuing projects complement and extend the work of MMUF.  They include partnerships with Cornell University's Future of Minority Studies program; the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers program at Phillips Andover; the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the Organization for Tropical Studies undergraduate ecology fellowship programs in Costa Rica and South Africa; the Social Science Research Council Graduate Initiatives; and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Dissertation and Research-Travel Grants and Junior Faculty Career Enhancement program.

Scholarly Communications

Scholarly Communications

The Foundation's Scholarly Communications program in 2007 was led by Donald J. Waters and, until September, Suzanne M. Lodato.  After seven years of service as associate program officer, Ms. Lodato became director of the Preservation and Access Division of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Scholarly Communications program has three primary objectives: to assist scholars in the development of specialized resources that promise to open or advance fields of study in the humanities and humanistic social sciences; to support libraries and archives in their efforts to preserve and provide access to materials of broad cultural and scholarly significance; and to strengthen the means by which humanistic scholarship is published and disseminated to the widest possible audience.

Among the highlights of the Scholarly Communications program in 2007 was a series of grants to enhance the availability of scholarly resources in the field of medieval studies.  Support was provided to Columbia University, where Professor Stephen Murray completed a Web site that aggregates precise descriptions of the interiors and exteriors of Romanesque churches in the Bourbonnais section of France, including photographs, laser scans, structural models, and Quick-Time virtual reality panoramas.  The site is now being extended to Gothic structures in early modern France beginning with a core set of medieval churches in Paris and continuing with additional structures from the Paris environs, showing changes in structure and design through time.

In addition, several grants were made to develop a variety of online manuscript collections.  The Parker on the Web project is a multiyear collaboration to produce a complete, high-resolution digital representation of the famed Parker Library of rare and unique medieval manuscripts at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and to build an interactive Web application in which the manuscript pages can be studied in the context of editions, translations, and secondary materials.  The project, which has involved a collaboration among Corpus Christi College, the University of Cambridge, and Stanford University, received a third round of funding.  Johns Hopkins University has been developing a Web-based resource containing multiple manuscript versions of the 13th-century romance Roman de la Rose.  With support from the Foundation, Hopkins and the Bibliothèque nationale de France will increase the number of Rose variants that are available for study online to approximately 150 of the 250 extant manuscripts.  Both Hopkins and Stanford also received funding to make it possible for scholars using either the Parker or Rose Web sites to retrieve and display manuscripts from the other site.  Finally, the Université de Fribourg, in collaboration with the Abbey Library of St. Gall (Switzerland), and UCLA received funding for a joint initiative to produce a digital library on manuscripts and related scholarly materials that document the intellectual culture of the ninth-century monastic society that produced and drew inspiration from the famous Plan of St. Gall.

As part of the Scholarly Communications program's ongoing efforts to help libraries and archives make their unique special collections more accessible for research and teaching, three institutions (Columbia, Hopkins, and UCLA) received funding for the further development of an innovative approach that is also being developed with previous Foundation funding at the University of Chicago.  Consulting with faculty, librarians hire and train graduate students to help process and catalog archival collections.

In another noteworthy set of special collections grants, the interests of the Scholarly Communications program intersected and complemented those of the Liberal Arts Colleges program.  After it received the papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2006, Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, contracted with the Robert W. Woodruff Library to catalog, store, and maintain the papers and make them available for research and exhibitions.  Under the auspices of the Liberal Arts Colleges program, the Foundation provided funds to endow the position of the director of the Morehouse King collection and to support program activities involving the use of the collection.  Through the Scholarly Communications program, grants were then provided to the Woodruff Library; Boston, which holds a major collection of King's papers; and Stanford University's Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute, which is producing a documentary edition of King’s papers.  Woodruff and Boston are collaborating in a cataloging effort that would employ the latest archival management tools and result in finding aids for each collection that could eventually be searched jointly online.  In their cataloging, the two libraries also have access to the rich knowledge of King's papers that the editors at the King Institute have acquired; conversely, the editors will benefit from the archival arrangement and cataloging done by the archivists.

The interests of the Scholarly Communications program also overlap closely with those of the Research University and Humanistic Studies program.  Last year, this intersection resulted in cross-program collaboration on two initiatives designed to strengthen scholarly publishing.  As this report has already noted in the Research University section, one of these deals with the publication of first monographs.  The second, described here, is designed to help forge stronger alignments between the academic priorities of research institutions and the publication programs of their presses.  Research universities often identify and pursue significant academic priorities without bringing fully to bear all of the resources available to them.  As institutional budgets have tightened, rather than taking better advantage of the unique capabilities of their presses, universities have tended to distance themselves from the presses, decreased subsidies, and expected them to become self-sustaining business units.  To explore the possibility that presses and their sponsoring universities could work more effectively together to strengthen their joint scholarly missions, Foundation staff launched a series of meetings with academic leaders and the directors of their affiliated university presses.  These meetings resulted in grants to three institutions with promising plans to connect more effectively their academic departments and presses.

At the University of Minnesota, the Institute for Advanced Studies and the university press received funds to establish four interdisciplinary research collaboratives—design and architecture, global cultures, environmental sustainability, and health and society—and develop a program to publish primary research materials, working papers, and monographs arising from the collaboratives.  At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the press will work with the library, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Law's Center for Civil Rights in publishing Web-based reference and teaching tools, as well as books on the civil rights movement and its relationship to the changing demographics of the South.  Finally, one central priority of the University of Pennsylvania is to advance the study of cross-cultural interactions and, with Foundation support, the press and the College of Arts and Sciences will launch a new journal on this theme as well as produce two new series of books, one for publication of invited distinguished lectures and the other for specially designed courses.  Although the specific projects and fields of study differ in each of these three initiatives, all involve the presses and their sponsoring institutions in making joint decisions about their publishing programs, and specifically in expanding the publishing capacity of the press by diversifying its publication activities and experimenting with new techniques or processes.

Museums and Art Conservation

Museums and Art Conservation

The program for Museums and Art Conservation, directed by Angelica Z. Rudenstine with the assistance of Program Associate Alison H. Gilchrest, has continued its efforts to help outstanding art museums build and sustain their capacity to undertake serious scholarship on their permanent collections; preserve these collections, share the results of their work in appropriate ways with scholarly and other audiences, and advance the training of future generations of conservators.  The program's grantmaking in 2007 focused significant resources in four areas.

First, building upon the efforts of the past eight years to strengthen science within art conservation, the Foundation made a four-year grant in support of the Art Conservation Research Center at Carnegie Mellon University, where training and research opportunities for young scientists will now be offered in the form of both pre- and postdoctoral fellowships.  In addition, senior positions in museums for such scientists continue to be created and endowed, most recently at the Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute.  Second, following the 2006 convening of directors, curators, conservators, and scientists from 12 leading UK and US institutions to discuss the ways in which digital conservation records should be created, managed, and disseminated, a similar gathering of interdisciplinary professionals, largely representing European museums, was held in May 2007 at The British Museum.  Pilot projects generated by both meetings are now underway, and others are in preparation.  The level of international exchange and collaboration on this important subject has grown substantially during the past year.

The Foundation's efforts in developing the field of photograph conservation over the past decade reached a turning point in 2007.  The initiative as a whole has included the establishment at George Eastman House of the first advanced training program, as well as endowed fellowships and full positions at museums with significant photographic holdings, and biannual midcareer workshops conducted in various parts of the country.  Ten years of full funding for the Advanced Residency Program (ARP) at George Eastman House is due to come to an end in July 2009.  By that time, 40 individuals representing 20 countries will have completed this demanding course: graduates now occupy positions in leading institutions in the US and abroad, and highly original and influential research has been conducted.  Eastman House owns what is perhaps the world's greatest collection of more than 400,000 photographs reaching back to the creation of the medium in 1839.  Throughout this decade, ARP faculty and fellows have taken responsibility for the preservation of these holdings.  Careful planning of the transition from Mellon funding to other sources of support therefore became an urgent priority.  In response, the Foundation made a $3 million grant toward the establishment of a newly endowed conservation department, which the Eastman House board of trustees intends to supplement with an additional $2 million.  Meanwhile, plans are well underway to establish (in 2008) a Center for the Legacy of Photography at Eastman House and the Rochester Institute of Technology, where a full program of education and research in the field of photography will be launched.

The fourth area of particular focus during the past year has been an effort to strengthen aspects of the curatorial profession, especially in its scholarly dimension: opportunities and clear pathways for young scholars in museums have been inadequate; midlevel positions are scarce; and salaries are far from competitive with those available in academic institutions.  The Mellon postdoctoral fellowship program, launched in 1995 and designed to increase the flow of excellent young art historians into the profession, has been widely judged a success, and compelling arguments for its establishment through endowment were offered by directors and curators at participating museums.  In the words of one director, "Our collections are our greatest legacy.  They require excellent curators who can install them intelligently, research them thoroughly, write well about them, and work closely with conservators in caring for and studying them analytically.  We need to be able to attract the brightest minds among our most recent PhD graduates and provide them the resources and opportunities to receive the best possible on-the-job training under the mentorship of distinguished and experienced, scholarly curators and conservators." [3]

Endowed postdoctoral fellowships of this kind have now been established at the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Art Institute of Chicago at compensation levels competitive with colleges and universities, adding impetus to the museum profession's efforts to raise its salaries across the board.  Comparable fellowships will be established at the Walters Art Museum in 2008.  Meanwhile, new midlevel curatorships have been established at the Saint Louis Art Museum and are under consideration at other institutions.

Performing Arts

Performing Arts

The Performing Arts program provides multiyear grants to leading theaters, orchestras, opera and modern dance companies, and dance-specific presenters based in the US, seeking to support both creative leadership and to strengthen institutional resources.  Responsibility for the Foundation's Performing Arts program was assumed in 2007 by Program Officer Susan Feder, who works closely with Associate Program Officer Diane Ragsdale.

The Foundation's New York Theater Program was redesigned in 2007 in partnership with the New York Foundation for the Arts, which will administer multiyear grants to the small and midsized theater companies in New York City.  A substantial grant was awarded to the Public Theater to enable it to launch the Public Lab, a major new program to produce one new play each month, with a particular focus on works by early career playwrights that embrace important public issues of our time.

In its support of dance, the Foundation has concentrated for some years on a group of single choreographer modern dance companies.  In the future, staff anticipate focusing direct grantmaking on dealing with issues of preservation and legacy confronting leading companies.  Along these lines, a grant was awarded to Merce Cunningham Dance Company to support the recording, editing, and archiving of the weekly rehearsal and technique class taught by Cunningham for future access by scholars, educators, artists, and the general public.

In the music program, support for orchestras continued to expand beyond those that participated in the multiyear Orchestra Forum (the last of these participants received their final Forum grants this year).  Grants in support of ambitious artistic initiatives were awarded to leading orchestras of varying sizes.  The American Symphony Orchestra League received funding for its leadership training programs, conductor fellowships, and transition to a more research-based organization capable of helping orchestras identify new artistic and operational models.  The Foundation continues to support the creation of new American opera and the revival of rarely heard works.  A major award to the Brooklyn Academy of Music will help endow a biennial opera festival to be curated by leading international figures.  Other music grants, reflecting the increasing interaction between live art and media, will support collaborative commissions to composers and video artists at the Los Angeles Philharmonic; a series of DVDs created by the San Francisco Symphony on orchestral masterpieces, which will be distributed via television and the Internet; and radio broadcasts of performances by the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Collaborative work was a recurring theme in several grants.  With help from the Foundation, Carnegie Hall launched a new series of festivals, which involve the participation of cultural institutions throughout New York City.  Lincoln Center received a substantial onetime grant for collaborative projects with other leading cultural institutions and among its campus constituents.  A one-time grant was made to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the Krannert Center to establish a freshman seminar that will be taught by teams of arts and non-arts faculty and linked to the offerings of the university's performing arts center and museum.  This award was also one of two major grants made to leading presenting organizations; the other, to the Walker Arts Center performing arts program, supports commissions, production residencies, and cultural exchange with South Africa, Brazil, and Indonesia.

Conservation and the Environment

Conservation and the Environment

The Foundation's Conservation and the Environment program, directed by William Robertson IV, has historically focused its attention on the field of botany and research on terrestrial ecosystems.  In 2007, the program continued efforts begun in 2003 to help a consortium of 83 herbaria in 36 countries to develop a coordinated digital database of information and images on the plants of Africa and Latin America.  Central to this initiative are high-quality digital images of Type specimens (the original specimens used to identify species).  The Type images are augmented by reference works, photographs, and botanical art.  The database is available for a test period through JSTOR (http://www.jstor.org) and Aluka (http://www.aluka.org).  Participating herbaria are asked to digitize and contribute to the database all of the Type specimens in their collections.  The program hopes to hear from any institutions holding African and Latin American plant Type specimens that have yet to be included.

The program continues to assist US universities in launching research groups led by junior scientists in their first tenure-track positions that are working toward basic understandings of plant ecosystems.  It is also expanding the collaborative work that the Foundation has supported between research groups at US and South African universities, particularly those that strengthen research in South African National Parks.

Research in Information Technology

Research in Information Technology

The Research in Information Technology program, led by Ira H. Fuchs with Christopher J. Mackie, supports the application of information technology to a wide range of scholarly and educational purposes, placing special emphasis on research and teaching in the humanities and the arts and on the development of tools for cultural organizations and institutions that benefit from the Foundation's other programs.

In 2007, the program presented the second round of Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration to nine institutions in the US, Canada, Sweden, and New Zealand.  These grants featured a new nomination process, implemented at the request of the award committee, which solicited global, public comment on the nominations.  Several awardees focused on improving access to technology by people with visual or motor impairments, including the ATutor learning management system (University of Toronto), the Firefox Accessibility Extension (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), and the DAISY talking books project (TPB, the Swedish Library for Talking Books and Braille).  The award committee noted that these projects enhance access to higher education as well as arts and cultural heritage institutions for tens of millions of people worldwide.

Work on the Kuali administrative systems projects (http://www.kuali.org) continued: Kuali Financial System released a new version and saw its first international adoption (in Africa); Kuali Research Administration met its first delivery milestones; and the new Kuali Student system project launched in September after an 18-month, community-based design process, also supported by the Foundation, that involved more than 100 institutions of higher education.

Work on scholarly tools for the arts and humanities also continued.  The Visual Understanding Environment (http://vue.uit.tufts.edu/) and Sophie (http://www.sophieproject.org), both rich-media e-book authoring projects, issued interim releases in 2007 and anticipate releasing new versions in the first quarter of 2008.  The Zotero personal citation management and Web research tool (https://www.zotero.org), initially supported in 2006, saw greater than expected adoption in 2007, including campus-wide, "official" adoptions by institutions of higher education in the US and Europe.  By the end of the year, several hundred thousand copies of Zotero were in active use worldwide, which justified a further grant being made to enable Zotero to be integrated with the permanent scholarly storage capabilities of the Internet Archive.

The program also supported two large, new projects, both designed to contribute to the technology infrastructure supporting arts and humanities scholarship.  This proved to be an area of significant institutional interest, as evidenced by the active involvement of numerous institutions and several major technology firms in the two projects.  SEASR (http://www.seasr.org), a rich-media analysis environment for the arts and humanities, builds on a collaboration between the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and IBM.  Fluid (http://www.fluidproject.org) is an international collaboration among institutions of higher education in North American and Europe and several firms, including IBM, Sun, and Google, to build user interfaces, which are more usable and accessible than those now available to people with visual and motor impairments.  Fluid's products are being retrofitted into several existing open source projects, including the Mellon-supported Sakai (http://www.sakaiproject.org), Kuali, and uPortal (http://www.jasig.org/uportal) projects, as well as the Moodle course management system, and are also beginning to contribute to next-generation software projects for higher education.

Collaboration among grantees has always been a feature of the program's projects.  2007 witnessed a significant increase in collaborative activities with other Mellon programs.  Longstanding collaborations between the Information Technology and Scholarly Communications programs continued, while conversations with the Foundation's other New York-based programs were launched.  A notable initiative already underway is the OpenCollection project, a Web-based collection management system suitable for library special collections and for small and midsized museums, which will be one of the first next-generation projects to implement the Fluid user interface capabilities.

Special International Emphases: South Africa

Special International Emphases: South Africa

For almost two decades, the Foundation's program in South Africa, overseen by Senior Advisor Stuart Saunders, has sought to build capacity in higher education, especially in the humanities and the arts, and to expand the infrastructures in libraries and information technology.

Echoing the early emphasis on developing people and resources for the new democracy, the Foundation made grants in 2007 to Stellenbosch University to support its efforts to develop and mentor previously disadvantaged (principally black and women) members of the junior faculty in the University; it also made grants to The University of Fort Hare library to expand its collections in the humanities and social sciences.  Recognizing that large numbers of faculty are expected to retire from South African universities in the next five years, the Foundation made grants to Rhodes University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal to assist promising young scholars through the Women's Academic Solidarity Association development program and to provide relief from teaching to individuals who need time to complete research and higher degrees.

The Foundation continues its active program of fellowships for honors, master's, doctoral, and postdoctoral students and for faculty support.  In 2007, the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University received grants that will prepare the next generation of scholars at these institutions.  Managerial staff, too, have benefited from funding for capacity building.  The Foundation made a grant to Higher Education South Africa for its International Links program, a structured six-week mentoring program at a US institution that allows participants from South Africa to gain fresh perspectives and to learn about new approaches, both academic and administrative, that US colleges and universities are developing.  Continuing its support of ongoing programs of proven quality, the Foundation awarded grants to the University of Cape Town for its opera program, for the Center for Popular Memory oral history collection, and for the cataloguing and digitization of the materials of the Bleek and Lloyd collection. [4]



[1] See, e.g., Anthony Bianco with Sonal Rupani, "The Dangerous Wealth of the Ivy League: Higher Education is Increasingly a Tale of Two Worlds, with Elite Schools Getting Richer and Buying Up All the Talent," Business Week, 10 December 2007, pp. 38-44; Karen W. Arenson, "Soaring Endowments Widen a Higher Education Gap," The New York Times, 4 February 2008, p. A14; idem, "Wealth Gap Growing Bigger Among American Colleges," The New York Times, 20 February 2008, p. B6.  Return to text.

[2] Additional information on these projects is available on the Web site of the Association of American University Presses at http://aaupnet.org/news/press/mellon12008.html.  Return to text.

[3] James Cuno, president, and Eloise W. Martin, director, The Art Institute of Chicago, October 8, 2007.  Return to text.

[4] See [http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=3808&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html].