2010 Annual Report: President's Report
In this report:
- Higher Education
- Research Universities and Humanistic Scholarship
- Liberal Arts Colleges
- Diversity Initiatives
- Scholarly Communications and Information Technology
- Performing Arts
- Museums and Conservation
- Conservation and the Environment
- Special International Emphasis: South Africa
The activities of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation can be described very simply. We support work in the humanities and the arts through grants to institutions of higher education, performing arts organizations, museums, libraries, and institutions similarly committed to work in these fields. We feel increasingly lonely.
As 2011 began, serious consideration was given in the US Congress to the outright elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. One might say that, in national terms, the budget of each was already so embarrassingly small (in the range of $150 million, or about the cost of one F-22 Raptor airplane) that it would not make much difference. This would, of course, be wrong in terms of the efforts that the endowments support, reaching into all of the fifty states. At least as important, however, is that the very mention of the possibility is a stunning sign of the times and a stinging indictment (one among a number) of the nation's priorities. To this we may add the fact that a number of the nation's leading foundations have in recent years greatly reduced their support of the arts and humanities. And in the world of higher education, a combination of circumstances often conspires to cause the current severe budget pressures to fall disproportionately on the humanities and the arts.
All of this occurs at a moment in which the need for higher education and for a strong place for the humanities and the arts within higher education and beyond has never been greater. With the economy again growing, we continue as a nation to disinvest in our future and to disinvest in ourselves. This will eventually take its toll on the economy and on our civic and intellectual life. It will furthermore increase the already growing income disparity that underlies many of our social ills and that in other nations has continually led to political unrest.
In addressing these matters, higher education is a good place to start. Higher education cannot be divorced from a good many other concerns, not least K–12 education and the family life (or lack of it) into which many children are born and grow up. These concerns may be most prominent in the lower half of the national income distribution, but they are not absent in the upper half. Nevertheless, the strength of its institutions of higher education has been a leading factor in the nation's prosperity and well-being. If the nation is to continue to prosper—economically and as a democracy—its institutions of higher education must gain in strength rather than be systematically weakened. This will require more serious attention to the nature of the national need for higher education at a variety of levels in an appropriate relation to one another, rather than a willingness to leave much too much to chance and to the vagaries of public opinion and special interests with no inclination or ability to think of the long-term future. It takes at a minimum about twenty-one years for a person to be born and graduate from college. This means that education in general and higher education in particular require thinking ahead in a systematic way. Yet it is hard to name anything that the nation seriously plans for on such a horizon.
The principal attention to higher education at the moment, aside from the many state governments intent on reducing resources for it, seems to come from a horde of prolific critics eager to point out its many failures and to assign blame. It would not be possible here to take up individually any significant number of the books of this type that have recently appeared. But several themes run in and out of them.
Two features of the dominant themes appearing in various combinations are simple-mindedness with respect to the nature of higher education as an enterprise and nostalgia with respect to some imagined golden age of higher education in the past (often a golden age coterminous with the period in which the author was him or herself an undergraduate at one of the nation's elite institutions). Both make it easy to assign blame to one or a few parties for current "failures." The "failures" tend to be of two types: higher education costs too much, and the students aren't learning anything. The blame is placed primarily on the faculty and secondarily on craven college and university administrators who capitulate to the faculty and grow their own numbers, all the while demanding higher and higher compensation.
All of this makes good newspaper copy in an age of increasing discontent. But a more nuanced understanding will be required if the long-term future is to be addressed. And the stakes are very high. Higher education as an issue has many of the features of health care. Unfortunately, the character of our recent and current debate about health care does not inspire confidence in our ability to have a productive discussion of higher education. But the price of failure cannot be borne in the long term in either case.
Does higher education cost too much? Is this cost rising too fast? Who is in fact bearing this cost and who ought to? The answers to these questions require in the first instance a refined analysis of what higher education does in fact cost and what are the components of that cost in the rather different types of the 4,500 institutions that attempt to provide it. The averages that are often cited obscure much more than they reveal. The simplest and most obvious example of this mixes together the increased rate at which tuition in public institutions has risen in response to reductions in state budgets and on a rather low base with the slower rate at which tuition in private institutions has risen on a much higher base. Even this distinction, however, does not ultimately clarify the issue, for the very notion of tuition itself requires clarification. Tuition certainly does not begin to represent the full cost to the institutions. It is more nearly the advertised price to the consumer. But in most institutions, the price actually paid by consumers varies substantially because of both internal and external subsidies or "discounts." It is probably safe to say that there is no nonprofit institution in which the consumer is paying the full cost, even if the consumer pays full tuition. This leads directly to the fundamental question to society—what should the consumer pay and who should make up the difference between that amount and the full cost?
This in turn brings us back to the question of the actual full cost of higher education and its principal drivers. The components of this cost vary widely across the different types of institutions. This fact, however, does not prevent the critics from making blanket statements blaming the problem of cost on the faculty. Specious calculations are made showing that the faculty hardly works at all, devotes too much time to research rather than teaching, and has tenure and therefore cannot be obliged to change its wasteful habits.
Whatever one believes about the institution of tenure as a protector of academic freedom, tenure is clearly not a driver of costs in higher education because tenure is steadily being eroded. Recent studies show that only about 50 percent of the faculty in higher education hold tenured or tenure-track positions. And of the total amount of instruction being carried on, only about 20 percent is given by such people. This is the result of the increasing use of contingent faculty—instructors with short-term or part-time appointments, often at very low wages with no health-care or other benefits. Whether this substitution of cheap labor for more expensive labor is the best way of reducing costs is a serious question. In any case, tenure is not preventing it in many institutions.
Research is a favorite subject of complaint, hyperbolically represented on occasion as the snake in the educational Garden of Eden. Here it is absolutely essential to distinguish among the types of educational institutions and among the types of research, if any, that are carried on in them. The easiest type of research to identify is research in the physical and biological sciences that is sponsored by the federal government or by the corporate world, though the latter has declined significantly in recent decades. Unlike most other developed countries and some rapidly developing ones, the United States adopted a policy in the wake of World War II of carrying on scientific research in the national interest primarily in universities rather than in separate federally supported laboratories and institutes. That there was a need for such research was widely believed on grounds, perhaps principally, of national defense but also on grounds of economic prosperity and competitiveness. The principal exceptions to this policy are the relatively few national laboratories of the Department of Energy, the largest of which carry on classified weapons research in the main, and the National Institutes of Health, which carry on research internally as well as sponsoring research in universities. At present, universities perform just over half of the nation's basic research, and the federal government supports about $31 billion, or 60 percent, of universities' total annual spending on basic research as well as applied research and development. The largest nonfederal source of funds for university research and development work is universities' own institutional funds, which account for 20 percent of the total. By 2006, industry supported only 5 percent of the total.
These and other figures make clear that the federal government does not pay the full cost of the research that it sponsors in universities and that the universities themselves make up the greatest share of the difference. Some of these costs, especially the cost of major new buildings, are borne in part by generous donors, often alumni. Nor does the federal government pay the full cost of administration and other infrastructure that supports research or the cost to institutions of complying with federal regulations. And except in some fields in the biomedical sciences, the federal government in general pays none of the academic-year salaries of the faculty members who carry on the research. A thorough account of all of the costs and sources of support for this research would reveal a substantial contribution from undergraduate tuition, especially in the private research universities but increasingly in the public universities as well. That is to say that the cost of federally sponsored research is indeed one of the drivers of the cost of higher education that is recovered in part through tuition in research universities. It is thus disingenuous of the architects of the federal government's budget to steadily reduce the degree to which the government pays the full cost of research while complaining about increases in tuition.
None of this is to say that the nation does not need more and better scientific research or that universities are not the places in which to conduct it. The arguments for both are powerful. It is to say only that the nation must confront directly the cost of the scientific research that it should carry on and not expect that research to be covertly subsidized by undergraduate education, about the cost of which it wishes to complain.
There are, of course, other kinds of research, and there are very many institutions for which research of any kind, as usually understood, is not a core mission. A fuller account of the place of research in higher education must begin by doing away with a too simple opposition of teaching and research. This requires first of all a much broader understanding of the term research, one that would make clear its essential relationship to teaching of the kind that matters.
To say that the principal problem with undergraduate education is research is to consign undergraduates to the mere memorization of what earlier generations have thought and said. This cannot be the basis for educating a citizenry that will prosper economically, politically, or intellectually. One might dare even to say spiritually. The research instinct should be a part of the life of everyone, whatever his or her occupation. Human beings are born with this instinct, and it should be nourished at every stage of their lives. It is easily associated with explorations of the physical world, as when a child turns over a rock or speculates about what might happen if this color is mixed with that. But society does a great deal to suffocate this instinct, and it often entirely neglects that instinct in relation to matters that lie beyond the physical world. Many of the methods that purport to gauge "learning outcomes" fail utterly to capture what might best be meant by learning, which is what lies at the heart of research broadly conceived.
Research is not only the work of scientists. It is the work of any thoughtful person who exercises any profession, any reader of books, any artist. To make a life in any pursuit is to do what the artist does. In A. R. Ammons' words:
art makes life, just as it makes itself, an
imitation: art makes shape, order, meaning,
purpose where there was none, or none discernible,
none derivable; life, too, if it is to have
meaning, must be made meaningful; if it is to
have purpose, its purpose must be divined, invented,
manifested, held to
The work of the scientist is, like the work of the artist, to make "shape, order, meaning, purpose where there was none, or none discernible." But that is also the work of the humanist, the stock analyst, the entrepreneur, the citizen, the parent, the reader. And that is the work that every undergraduate must be educated to do—as a habit of mind. It is not sufficient for the student of chemistry to memorize the periodic table without grasping for ways hitherto unimagined in which its elements might be assembled. Nor is it sufficient for the student of history or literature to memorize the names and dates and received myths of famous people or the plots of famous novels without striving to find order, meaning, purpose where at first there appeared to be none.
That is the quality of mind that must lie at the heart of the national spirit for reasons of economic competitiveness but even more for reasons of being a nation worth defending, remembering, admiring. It must therefore be at the heart of education at every stage and certainly at the heart of undergraduate education. To live life to the fullest both professionally and personally is in effect to do research daily. In the lives of undergraduates it entails requiring them to "figure things out" on their own and then to be challenged about whether they have figured them out adequately. This is not likely to happen if the faculty does not itself live life in this way. It is perhaps quite simply unfair to expect the faculty to develop steadily in their students the instinct for discovery and the thrill of it while foreswearing any continuing experience of it themselves.
If we grant that research is not the problem but, properly defined, is instead crucial to the solution, we must still confront the appropriate combination of ingredients in the lives of faculty members and students alike. This leads quite straightforwardly to the ratio that lies at the heart of the economy of all institutions of higher education. How many students per faculty member can an institution support while responsibly meeting its obligations to both parties? This is to ask the productivity question.
The answer to this question will depend on what the product is thought to be. The product is surely more than some target number of undergraduate degrees per unit of time. The product of higher education across all institutions, though it differs across types of institutions, must include not just certificates and degrees but genuinely thoughtful undergraduates as well as advanced and professional graduates, research in the national interest and for its own sake, and service to society of many kinds. Holding the means of production (that is, the faculty and staff) constant, we could of course increase the productivity of some product lines by decreasing production in others. But let us say that we could come to agreement on the right "product mix" for higher education. Are there methods by which we could increase the productivity of the enterprise as a whole and in the process constrain the growth of costs to a rate at or below that of the economy in general? Could higher education be more efficient?
The short answer is "yes." In leading universities in the 1960s, the typical assistant professor in the humanities taught three courses per semester. Today such a person might teach two courses per semester, with periodic opportunities to teach fewer for the sake of devoting more time to research. Teaching duties in the natural sciences and in some of the social sciences started lower and were reduced faster. This implies that we could increase the efficiency or productivity of higher education simply by returning to the practices of fifty years ago. Of course, this reduces costs only if we reduce the number of faculty or increase the number of students. Similar things might be said about nonacademic staff, though it would simply not be possible to reduce the number of staff in information technology to what it was in the 1960s, and the same would need to be said about some other staff, such as those that attend to compliance with government regulation and to the needs of students with disabilities and so forth, all of which have grown substantially.
Then what? Sooner or later, increases in productivity will begin to decline and reach a limit—if we believe that in an education worthy of the name there must always remain some core of direct human interaction. There is no disruptive technology that will take the place of an adult asking a young person to write about something of substance and then sitting with that young person, challenging him or her to observe more acutely and to frame a stronger argument in support of an original idea. This is an activity that must be undertaken thousands of times every day all across the country if we are to develop the minds that will ensure the nation's welfare in every sense. It has not been a feature of the educational systems of some countries with whom we now begin to compete. These countries are beginning to recognize this difference and are attempting to incorporate the US style of education even as we start to see it weaken.
This kind of education is expensive on a per student basis because it requires attention to students one at a time, and after a certain point it is not subject to productivity gains. How then can it be afforded? This will require thinking about the entire system of higher education and the variety of kinds of education that it provides. Let us imagine some total number of seats for students in the system. Elements of liberal arts education—the research instinct properly defined—should be present for every one of those seats. But for reasons of talent and inclination, only some fraction of those seats will be needed for the deepest and most expensive kind of education. There will also need to be seats for many other kinds of education in the professions and the trades, many of which will be much less expensive. This begins to sound like rationing, and this may remind us of the debate about health care. But the only solution to the problem of the cost of higher education will entail coming to conclusions about how many students get what kinds of education and how to achieve the right balance among the most and least expensive forms of it—all the while ensuring that every student has access to the highest educational attainment of which he or she is capable. De facto, there will be rationing and cross-subsidies, but this need not impede access.
Some critics now complain that in the current system, with its rising costs, students are not in general learning much if anything, and there is a good deal of data to suggest that many college students work rather little and are guided in the main by social rather than academic concerns. Whose fault is that? Once again, the faculty is often assigned the blame. If only the faculty cared more about their students and less about their research, all would be well.
Here we encounter the curious view that higher education needs to be subjected to more market discipline if it is to survive and improve, as if the market for higher education had not made higher education what it is. Higher education exists in a very competitive market for the talent of both faculty and students. Yet a familiar complaint about colleges and universities is that they do not know their customers or respond adequately to their wishes. Colleges and universities have changed steadily in response to the wishes and inclinations of students and their parents, often in ways that are then lamented by the critics who claim that higher education costs too much and that students are not learning anything. It is not easy to imagine the college or university that could appeal to students and parents by bragging not only that it was returning to the days of effectively higher student-faculty ratios but also to those same days when students ate what was put in front of them at appointed hours and slept in a relatively small room with a stranger of the same sex. The institutions that have built elaborate recreational facilities and food courts and other amenities have built them not because the faculty or even most administrators thought them essential to an education of high quality. They have built these things because the market has demanded them and has been willing to pay for them to some degree. For better or worse, we do not in this country prevent people from making foolish choices with their money, even when the sum of all of those choices has manifestly bad consequences for the nation. The faculty, meanwhile, faced with a good many students (and some of their parents) who complain about their grades and who relentlessly choose courses with little assigned reading and no assigned writing may very well come to feel that the rewards (not monetary, to be sure) for doing research and debating it with their colleagues are somewhat greater than for teaching undergraduates.
If we wish to know what is wrong with higher education we will need to recognize that its current state reflects a good deal about our culture of which we cannot be proud. It means recognizing that the consumers, aided and abetted by U.S. News & World Report, are a significant part of the problem. This means thinking about how young people come to have the values that they have and how certain values might be strengthened as opposed to others.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation cannot alone address very much of this. We can, nevertheless, help institutions reinforce the values inherent in the study of the liberal arts, especially the humanities and the arts. Despite those who maintain that research is the problem in higher education (by which they usually mean undergraduate education), this Foundation will continue to support research in the humanities and the arts on the part of both faculty and students in the belief that research as an activity is what we mean when we say that every mind should steadily be engaged in making "shape, order, meaning, purpose where there was none, or none discernible."
In the pages that follow, the Foundation's program staff offer summary accounts of their activities in 2010. The remainder of the report contains a compilation of the Foundation's grants for 2010 and its annual financial statements.
Don M. Randel
In the Foundation's 2009 Annual Report, President Randel signaled the Foundation's intention to coordinate more closely the program that has supported the humanities and the arts in research universities and the program supporting liberal arts colleges. During the second half of 2010, this anticipated transition toward greater integration of the Research Universities and Humanistic Scholarship (RUHS) program and the Liberal Arts Colleges (LAC) program began; it was understood that this transition would continue through much of 2011. With the retirement of Harriet Zuckerman in the spring of 2010 and the departure of Program Officer Joseph Meisel in October 2010 (who accepted the position of deputy provost at Brown University), Vice Presidents Philip Lewis and Mariët Westermann assumed joint responsibility for RUHS, and Program Officer Eugene Tobin took on primary responsibility for LAC. The principal divide between the two programs—the focus of RUHS on graduate education and of LAC on undergraduate education—has been eliminated. The three leaders of higher education's programmatic effort are working together on developing college/university collaborations and on encouraging projects in Research-1 universities that reflect the Foundation's abiding interest in the liberal education of undergraduates and in the promotion of the study and practice of art in liberal education. They also intend to pursue more concerted collaborations with their colleagues in the Foundation's other programs in the humanities and the arts. In the following summary of the Foundation's grantmaking in higher education in 2010, both convenience and actual practice dictate that the distinct rubrics of the two programs in higher education be maintained.
For the first half of 2010, RUHS continued to be led by Ms. Zuckerman, senior vice president of the Foundation since 1992, and by Mr. Meisel, program officer since 2001. During the third quarter of the year, Mr. Meisel continued in the program officer's role and served as a mentor for the current leaders of the program, Mr. Lewis and Ms.Westermann.
Through 2010 the central programmatic activities of RUHS continued as in the past. Ten scholars received New Directions Fellowships for training in fields other than their own, and 32 Emeritus Fellows were awarded funds for continuing their scholarly work. Ten new John E. Sawyer Seminars in the Comparative Study of Cultures were funded, as were six summer dissertation seminars for groups of advanced graduate students and initiatives in four university-based humanities centers. Three senior humanists were chosen for Distinguished Achievement Awards, which have been awarded annually for the past decade: Joseph Leo Koerner, an authority on German art and philosophy; Jonathan Lear, a philosopher and psychoanalyst; and Edward Muir, a historian of the Italian Renaissance. Through grants to the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), two major programs supporting scholars—the Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships and the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars—were renewed for an additional six years. Finally, no fewer than a dozen grants in support of advanced study in research centers, institutes, and archives provided funds for a wide variety of scholarly endeavors across the humanities.
During the spring, preliminary reports from participating scholars and institutions confirmed the value of the Foundation's investment in 50 two-year postdoctoral fellowships, awarded in a competition conducted by the ACLS, that sought both to assist deserving new PhDs in the humanities who faced a grim job market and to enable colleges and universities handicapped by the recession to bring strong young scholars into their teaching programs. Accordingly, a decision was made to continue this temporary effort to assist the academic profession during a period of financial recovery for one more year. Moreover, five universities received direct grants supporting postdoctoral fellowships in the humanities, and pursuant to an initiative undertaken by the Foundation's president, a special grant enabled the ACLS to launch a pilot program that will place six to eight recent PhDs in postdoctoral positions outside the academy, notably in government agencies and nonprofit organizations. RUHS also continued its efforts to enable experimentation in discrete academic fields such as religious studies or the history of botany. Several of these grants register the Foundation's enhanced commitment to the place of the arts—to making and presenting art, as well as studying it—in university curricula and research agendas. These grants provided support for performance studies, dance studies, the study of keyboard music, the exploration of baroque opera, and collaborations of working artists with academic scholars in both research and teaching.
During the final months of 2010, RUHS introduced some potentially significant new departures, each of which resulted from initiatives undertaken by the president. In cooperation with the French embassy in Washington, a grant was awarded in support of the Partner University Fund to underwrite partnerships between humanities programs in American and French universities. Another transnational grant will support a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. A modest grant to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences will fund a commission of educators, business leaders, and policymakers that will examine the state of the humanities and social sciences in the US education system and make recommendations for strengthening them. In what is arguably its most innovative intervention of the year, the Foundation granted $10 million to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, to be matched one-to-one by the State, for the purpose of restoring faculty positions lost as a result of budget-cutting measures and strengthening the humanities with new postdoctoral positions and funding for graduate fellowships. This highly exceptional grant was emblematic, moreover, of the Foundation's continuing effort to sustain the humanities in the nation's great public universities.
While leadership of the program continued to be shared by Mr. Lewis and Mr. Tobin, in midyear Mr. Tobin took over the primary responsibility for both its day-to-day administration and its relations with grantees. As in the past, the dominant objective of LAC grants was to support curricular renewal and faculty development in the approximately 70 colleges that regularly receive grants from the Foundation. In 2010, the most prominent focus of the preceding year—the encouragement of collaboration among groups of colleges that form regionally-based consortia—was vigorously maintained. Support for consortia totaling slightly more than $7 million included endowment grants of $2.5 million, respectively, to the Associated Colleges of the South and the Great Lakes Colleges Association. Other grants supported a set of digital and library-sharing initiatives launched by six upstate New York colleges, an academic and administrative planning effort among five liberal arts colleges in the Pacific Northwest, and discrete collaborations among groups of two or three colleges in different areas of the country. In addition, during the summer the program informed its grantees of the Foundation's interest in contributing to arrangements that would facilitate productive relations between liberal arts colleges and research universities. Along with this opening toward a new dimension of multi-institutional collaboration, the program conveyed to its grantees its concern with the widespread trend in undergraduate education to emphasize pre-professional programs that purport to prepare students for gainful employment. The interest of the Foundation lies, so to speak, in liberalizing the pre-professional—in asserting the central value of a liberal arts education for any and all professional pursuits and thus in supporting efforts to weave a liberal arts core and ethos into the curricula and co-curricular horizons of undergraduate programs in business, engineering, and other career-targeting areas of study. The assumption is that when such vocationally-oriented programs cohabit with the classic fields of study in a collegial setting conducive to interaction and cross-fertilization, these educational enterprises can be complementary and mutually reinforcing.
During 2010, LAC followed the pattern of the last several years in distributing its grants under four durable rubrics: faculty career enhancement, libraries and information technology, curricular development and educational effectiveness, and presidential support. The last of these categories is the simplest: grants ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 provide college presidents with discretionary funds to deploy in support of institutional priorities. Under the heading of faculty career enhancement, the grants offer assistance to faculty members at various stages of their professional lives and, increasingly in recent years, to institutions that can benefit from thoughtfully designed arrangements coupling retirements of veteran faculty, the recruitment of junior faculty, and the use of postdoctoral fellows to achieve institutional renewal, curricular flexibility, and financial stability. The program continues to offer a steady stream of grants to colleges that undertake to review and revamp the undergraduate curriculum in the humanities. One specific feature of the past several years has been a concerted effort to promote interdisciplinary studies of the environment. The Foundation's leadership, satisfied that this vein of curricular development has been seeded successfully, has opted to discontinue environmental studies grants after 2011. In keeping with the transformation of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education into a networking organization that focuses less on introducing faculty to instructional technology and more on the strategic management and sharing of educational environments among multiple institutions, grants under the rubric of libraries and information technology are, on the one hand, veering increasingly toward the so-called "digital humanities" and the development of "digital literacy" by faculty and students alike, and, on the other hand, toward ongoing planning for the transformation of libraries into multifaceted centers of learning that expand their roles far beyond the traditional functions of collecting print materials and housing archives.
In three other important respects, LAC's work during the year reflected the larger emphases of the Foundation's work with institutions of higher education. Paired grants to Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts in New York, and the American University of Paris introduced, in the LAC universe, the possibility of international partnerships that RUHS has also begun to explore. Again in tandem with RUHS, LAC pursued a concerted effort during the year to promote opportunities both for institutions and for new humanities PhDs who are embarking on careers as scholars and teachers by funding postdoctoral fellowships in liberal arts colleges. Often incorporated into multipurpose grants as a component that entails the interaction of the fellow with veteran faculty members, the postdoctoral positions serve multiple purposes: to allow young humanists to pursue their scholarly work and professional development, to train them in the arts of teaching and participating in the liberal arts community, to enhance the curriculum of the college that recruits them, and to help institutions allocate valuable faculty resources to meet current and future needs. Finally, in an effort to support one of President Randel's priorities for undergraduate education—the positioning of work in the arts as a vital component of the curriculum—and in parallel with grants to research universities that promote collaborations of artists and scholars in research and teaching, the LAC made the first in a series of grants that will position the arts at the intersection of curricular innovation and community engagement.
The Diversity Initiatives program, led by Carlotta Arthur, has grown considerably in its scope over the past several years. The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program continues to be the centerpiece of efforts to help transform the academy into an intellectual and educational community that fully reflects the diversity of the US population at large, but grantmaking activities have expanded to include many other institutions and programs that buttress the Foundation's mission. A portion of the program budget continues to support academic programs, faculty career enhancement, libraries, and strategic planning at select historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Overall these programs constitute a broad-based effort to enhance diversity in higher education and mitigate the underrepresentation of disadvantaged groups in American society.
MMUF supports students with academic promise—those from underrepresented minority groups and other students with a demonstrated commitment to diversity—who wish to seek doctoral degrees and pursue careers in higher education. MMUF is active at 42 institutions, including three South African universities, and also works with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) consortium of 39 HBCUs. As of December 2010, 3532 students have been selected to participate in MMUF over the 22 years of its history. The total number of PhDs earned by fellows is 373, and 42 of them have been awarded tenure. The number of PhDs in progress is 571. While MMUF begins by targeting exceptional undergraduate students, recent efforts have devoted greater attention to the advancement of graduate students and junior faculty. The program will continue to emphasize work in these areas as the number of MMUF graduate and postdoctoral fellows grows.
In past years, the simultaneous renewal of financial support to a majority of MMUF member institutions was covered by a large infusion of Foundation funds. As this strategy has become increasingly unwieldy, the renewal process has been restructured to provide for a staggering of program renewals over consecutive years. The 2010 budget began this process, which further adjustments in 2011 will continue, by adding an extra year of support for MMUF to 11 institutions.
The Diversity Initiatives program provided significant renewal of support for the Faculty Career Enhancement program administered by the UNCF as well as renewals for the American Indian College Fund's Faculty Research Program, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Mutual Mentoring Initiative, Wheaton College's Summer Institute for Literary and Cultural Studies, Emory University's Visiting Scholars Program, and the Kohala Center's dissertation fellowships. In February 2010, the Foundation hosted a grantwriting seminar for ten HBCU grantees. Response from the attendees was extremely positive, and planning grants were later awarded to support the development of programs of strategic importance to the institutions' presidents.
The Foundation's Scholarly Communications and Information Technology (SCIT) program was led in 2010 by Donald J. Waters and Helen Cullyer. The program was formed in January 2010 with the merger of the Foundation's Scholarly Communications and Research in Information Technology programs. SCIT's four primary objectives are to: (1) support the efforts of libraries and archives to preserve and provide access to materials of broad cultural and scholarly significance; (2) assist scholars in developing specialized resources that promise to open or advance fields of study in the humanities and humanistic social sciences; (3) strengthen the publication of humanistic scholarship and its dissemination to the widest possible audience; and (4) support the design, development, and implementation of software applications and services that advance the objectives of the Foundation's core constituents.
During 2010, SCIT funded projects to help libraries consolidate print collections and adapt both to new technologies and to the acquisition of increasing quantities of digital materials. The University of California received an award to develop the Western Regional Storage Trust, an organization in which research libraries throughout the western US will share the cost and responsibilities of archiving print journals. Although the acquisition of digital collections has the potential to improve the accessibility of resources, electronic materials pose some difficult legal challenges for librarians and their counsel. In response to this problem, the Association of Research Libraries, in collaboration with American University's Center for Social Media and Washington College of Law, received funds to develop a code of best practices regarding fair use in academic libraries. The increase in born-digital and digitized collections has also taxed the technological infrastructure of research libraries, many of which are interested in adopting flexible open source software applications. LYRASIS, a service organization for libraries, received a grant for the development of new consultation, support, and hosting services for a variety of open source products.
In addition, SCIT continued its backing of the basic and critically important activities of cataloging and preserving collections. The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) received funds to administer in 2010 and 2011 its Hidden Collections initiative, a national, peer-reviewed, competitive grantmaking program for the cataloging of uncataloged and unprocessed special collections in the US institutions that are effectively "hidden" from scholars. The CLIR review panel selected 17 institutions as award winners in 2010.
In the area of preservation, SCIT focused on the conservation of print and manuscript materials as well as the preservation of analog audiovisual collections. Following the indefinite suspension of the graduate-level training program in book and paper conservation at the University of Texas at Austin, SCIT granted funds to three graduate programs in art conservation (at Buffalo State College, New York University, and the University of Delaware) to develop pilot initiatives that would train graduate students in book and paper conservation, in cooperation with library and information schools and research libraries. In addition, SCIT provided funds to endow new senior book and paper conservators at Columbia and Duke Universities, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). To help ensure the preservation of audio collections, awards were made to the American Composers Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra Association, Houston Symphony Society, and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and to Syracuse University for use by its Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive. New York University, in collaboration with Loyola University and the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley), is embarking upon a Foundation-funded project to determine best practices for replacing and preserving videotapes in circulating collections.
To help scholars build resources and tools to advance their fields, a number of grants were made in the area of medieval studies. Stanford University is undertaking technical work to improve the interoperability of major digitized manuscript collections, while Johns Hopkins University and the University of Toronto are coordinating a number of research projects that would use digitized collections from multiple repositories. The University of Waterloo is developing a tool for the annotation of digitized manuscripts, while Saint Louis University received funds for a manuscript transcription tool. To improve access to and understanding of medieval Arabic sources, the Foundation made grants to the University of Zurich for the development of its Arabic Papyrology Database and to Harvard University, in collaboration with Tufts University, for the creation of an electronic corpus of medieval Arabic translations of Greek philosophical and scientific texts.
SCIT also made grants to fund electronic editing, and the publication of both digital editions and reference resources related to those editions. These awards included grants to Duke University to complete development of an online platform for editing Greek documentary papyri, to UC Berkeley to develop procedures that would allow documentary editors to share their editorial notes with editors from related projects across several institutions, and to the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities for an electronic prosopography of individuals from the Founding Era that would be published by Rotunda, the electronic imprint of the University of Virginia Press.
In information technology, SCIT provided funding for Project Bamboo, a multi-institutional effort led by UC Berkeley, to design and develop virtual research environments for the collection, analysis, and interpretation of digital resources, with an emphasis in the first phase on textual sources. In order to further develop standards and protocols for the annotation of digital content of all media types, UIUC is continuing to lead the Open Annotation Collaboration (OAC). In the current phase, a number of repositories will experiment with implementing OAC standards. Stanford University received funds to direct an initiative to use and enhance the Software Environment for the Advancement of Scholarly Research (SEASR) for a number of scholarly research projects in literary studies that involve text-mining and linguistic analysis. In addition, the American Museum of the Moving Image received funding for the second phase of development of CollectionSpace, an open source collections management system for museums. SCIT also collaborated on technology-related grants funded in other program areas of the Foundation and described elsewhere in this report.
The Foundation's Performing Arts program was led in 2010 by Susan Feder and, until July, Diane Ragsdale. It makes grants in music (with an emphasis on orchestras and opera), theater, and dance, with additional support for presenting organizations, service organizations, and related institutions working to advance the field (several of which administer regranting programs that extend the Foundation's reach). Many grants support the creation, presentation, and dissemination of ambitious or rarely performed artistic work and are evaluated on the basis of artistic excellence, distinctiveness, and impact. While the program has long focused on supporting the work of generative artists—composers, playwrights, and choreographers—it has increasingly concentrated on strengthening the developmental process of their work, both before and after a premiere. Grants also helped organizations adapt their practices, structures, or programming to a rapidly changing environment (including collaborative initiatives), and provided support for documentation and preservation, legacy planning, international exchange activities, technological and media-related innovations, and professional development. In addition, the program continued its recent emphasis on enhancing the role of the performing arts on college and university campuses. While the program's grants are national in scope, they also reflect the Foundation's role as a New York-based funder.
In the music program, the year's highlights included a series of grants made to opera companies and organizations devoted to the development of new opera. Collaborative grants to the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Gotham Chamber Opera will enable them to establish and share resident composers, support workshops for a co-commissioned opera, and build organizational capacity for them and a smaller complementary company. Several grants will support curriculum-based programs to address skills for composers and librettists not typically taught in academic settings, while others have a project-based focus that provides a more flexible developmental process for new works. The Foundation's support for orchestras in 2010 concentrated on smaller, leading institutions with distinctive artistic and organizational offerings that address longterm sustainability and that may serve as models for other orchestras adapting to changed circumstances. Acknowledging the evolving role of orchestra musicians, several grants funded musician-led initiatives, such as the one for ICElab, a commissioning, incubation, and performance program. The Foundation also awarded grants to National Public Radio and New York's WQXR designed to broaden access to concert broadcasts on terrestrial and digital radio. Two of the program's largest grants went to support the operations of new centers in New York City that will serve the rehearsal, audition, and convening needs of orchestras, opera companies, and other performing arts organizations.
The Foundation's theater program continued to support companies distinguished by their sustained commitments to artists, distinctive artistic visions, and histories of producing new or artistically ambitious works, often by means of extended residencies and partnerships aimed at strengthening the quality of new work. Among the highlights were grants to: the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for American Revolutions, where more than 100 artists, historians, and institutions will create 37 new plays, each work inspired by a moment of change in US history; three university-based professional theater programs; and three companies that produce community-based theater. For collaborative work, grants went to the Austin Circle of Theaters (to support planning for a collective of local theaters to share resources more effectively) and the National New Play Network, which administers the Continued Life of New Plays and Collaborations initiative. A grant to the New England Foundation for the Arts will launch the first full round of the National Theater Project, which will enable companies—particularly those devising nontraditional theater—to develop, produce, and tour new work.
In dance, the Foundation began an initiative that provides support to seven leading independent and university-based presenters. These organizations will be able to increase the resources they make available to independent, artist-led dance companies and to deploy them flexibly, with the objective of achieving more fully realized productions. The Foundation renewed its support to the Center for Creative Research, which pairs established movement-based artists with colleges and universities and fosters interdisciplinary connections among artists, scholars, and others. Additionally, several grants were made to support vital preservation efforts for single choreographer dance companies. For the critical role it plays in achieving greater diversity in classical ballet training and performance, Dance Theater of Harlem also received a grant.
The Foundation responded to the growing need for support for cultural exchange activities by providing increased support for the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation's US Artists International, which provides travel subsidies for US-based artists performing at international festivals and other events. It also provided support for Theatre Communications Group's new Global Connections program, which supports both new and existing international artistic collaborations. A grant to Jazz at Lincoln Center helped fund its Cuban tour, and a grant to Wesleyan University will help develop and implement a postgraduate professional certificate program for US and international performing arts presenters. Technology-related grants were made to support planning for Project Audience, an initiative aimed at developing technologies to help community-level arts service organizations aggregate information and build demand for cultural events; a course on strategic technology planning for nonprofit arts organizations; and a Web-based audience engagement platform. In light of continued economic uncertainty, the Foundation extended its program-related investment (administered by the Nonprofit Finance Fund) beyond the initial 18-month term and expanded the geographic reach of the zero-interest loan pool to serve small and midsized performing arts grantees on a national basis. It also made a grant to the Creative Capital Foundation (CCF) to support a revolving loan fund for individual performing artists. Among the regranting programs supported by Mellon in 2010 were first-time grants to the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, which provides support to small, independent groups that have had difficulty attracting institutional funding but have nonetheless become important incubators and contributors in their fields, and to CCF for the Multi-Arts Production Fund. The Foundation also joined with the National Endowment for the Arts and leading private foundations to launch an initiative to enhance the physical and social character of neighborhoods, towns, cities, or regions through arts and cultural activities.
The Museums and Art Conservation program began a transition in March 2010 when Angelica Z. Rudenstine, its program officer for the preceding 15 years, retired. At that time, Ms. Westermann assumed leadership of the program, which was to remain a part of her broader portfolio when, in the summer of 2010, she joined the officers of the Foundation as a vice-president. With the support of staff members Alison H. Gilchrest and Ashley Farrell, the program continued to assist museums in their mission of preserving, studying, interpreting, and displaying art for local, national, and international audiences. Since responsibility for grantmaking to research universities and centers of advanced study in the humanities was integral to Ms. Westermann's vice-presidential role, it was natural for the program to begin exploring, during the second half of the year, the potential for new relationships between museums, centers for art historical research, and universities.
While grantmaking maintained continuity with the recent priorities of the program, staff set out to review emerging needs and opportunities in art curatorship and conservation. In studying funding trends to art museums by federal agencies and private foundations in the United States over the past two decades, staff found that federal appropriations for art museums have been declining in real dollars since 1994 while private foundations have stepped in to fill the gap, though without much coordination or constancy. The Foundation intends to maintain its consistent commitment to art museums, and particularly to their curatorial and conservation infrastructure. To ascertain what new directions that support might take, staff met frequently with directors of museums, foundations, and centers for art historical research as well as with chairs and faculty in graduate programs in art history and conservation. These discussions, which are continuing in 2011, have begun to distill several themes, including the relevance of art museums for a diversifying population, the need to optimize technological access, lack of diversity among museum staff, a pending leadership vacuum as a generation of museum directors retires, and insufficient opportunities for graduate students to receive object-based curatorial training. Museum directors expressed a desire to address these concerns while maintaining focus on core curatorial and conservation missions. These are complicated and interconnected issues, and the Foundation intends to support multiple approaches to them, encouraging collaborations between museums and universities where appropriate.
Initial efforts to support museum directors in their demanding roles included select invitations to new directors who have compelling visions for museums with the capacity to be field leaders. Two such grants went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The program's historical interest in strengthening curatorial ranks was maintained with an endowment challenge grant for the curatorship of modern and contemporary drawings at the Pierpont Morgan Library. Program staff also identified several museums with collections of national and international importance that would benefit from enhanced curatorial support. The Birmingham Museum of Art and the Museum of the City of New York each received first-time grants to establish postdoctoral fellowships in their curatorial departments.
Many museums are grappling with the need to strengthen or clarify the place of contemporary art—loosely defined as art made after 1960—in their collections and programs. In recognition of this interest, the Foundation made a grant to the Guggenheim Museum to establish parameters for interpreting, installing, and preserving the Panza Collection of Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual art. A grant to the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University will enable it to study and present contemporary art of Brazil in a sustained fashion. This grant acknowledges that curators of contemporary art need to spend significant time in the communities where art is produced, and that artists from those communities need to be present in the centers where their art will be exhibited. Both initiatives will contribute to the development of research infrastructure in contemporary art, a topic of rising concern in the field that will continue to have the Foundation's attention.
The Foundation's dedication to strengthening the place of art museums and objects within the college and university curriculum also shaped grants to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, where a new postdoctoral position will be endowed, and Johns Hopkins University, for an undergraduate program that has students working with major museums in the greater Baltimore area on collections research, interpretation, and presentation. An exceptional grant to the Courtauld Institute of Art in support of its initiative to diversify its curriculum beyond the Western tradition provided bridge funding for a new faculty position in a field of Asian art.
In conservation, the program sought to strike a similar balance between continuity and exploration. Three grants in photograph conservation, an area of intense Foundation interest in recent years, focused on the training of conservators and curators of historically significant but insufficiently known collections in St. Petersburg (Russia), the broad Middle East, and historically black colleges and universities in the United States. The Foundation's recent efforts to support digital infrastructure for conservation documentation evolved from initial grants in support of several promising experiments (which continue to yield important workflow and platform insights) to support for a few organizations with capacious IT infrastructure and international relationships. A grant to the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie in The Hague funds the rapid expansion of The Rembrandt Database, an international project that is poised to demonstrate the possibility of data sharing among many institutions and the concomitant enhancement of research outcomes. Digital management of conservation data within institutions is one of the great challenges museums face. A grant to the National Gallery of Art supports a consortium of institutions in the planning of ConservationSpace, an open source Web-based application for managing conservation documentation. The British Museum received two grants to develop a prototype for ResearchSpace, a semantic environment for data about cultural heritage objects that aims to overcome incompatibility among different institutional data management systems.
Over the past ten years, the Foundation has invested more than $50 million in a rich array of initiatives to strengthen the role of science in conservation research, education, and practice. Grants to Yale University for a director of scientific research and to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for scientific consultations continued this program while the Foundation commissioned a review of its investments in science. Program staff is also examining the level of support available for students in graduate programs in conservation. The results of these studies will help Foundation staff identify possibilities for further investment in conservation science and education in 2011 and beyond.
The marked international character of several grants warrants a final comment on the growing integration of museums, conservation, and the history of art in a worldwide ecosystem of research, exhibitions, and publications that is shaped by global patterns in migration, tourism, and trade. The history, exchange, and preservation of art have always been global affairs, over millennia of peaceful and forced travel of art and artists. Nevertheless, the effects of globalization are now daily and consequential realities for any museum in ways inconceivable two decades ago. The scope of what museums collect and exhibit, the range of visitors they welcome, the diversity of their collaborators and competitors, and the extent of their Web-based reach have all "gone global" to unprecedented levels. This trend will not be reversed, and if managed within well-articulated strategic frameworks, it will benefit museums and the communities they serve. The Foundation stands ready to work with museums and centers of art and conservation in mobilizing the opportunities for renewal that our global condition presents.
The Foundation's Conservation and the Environment program, directed by William Robertson IV with Doreen N. Tinajero and Sydney Gilbert, continued efforts begun in 2003 to help a consortium of over 180 herbaria from more than 60 countries to develop a coordinated database of high-quality digital images (600dpi) of plant Type specimens (the original specimens used to identify species). These Type images are augmented by reference works, photographs, and botanical art. The participating herbaria are contributing images for all of the Types they hold, and their estimates indicate that the total will be in excess of 2 million. The Plants Initiative database now holds about 1,500,000 images and associated data: 901,000 Types and historical specimens; 151,000 images of artwork, photographs, and reference materials; and nearly 450,000 articles linked from JSTOR. Objects are arriving at the rate of about 7,500 per week. Searches within JSTOR Plants also display returns from the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The database is available online at JSTOR (http://plants.jstor.org). Staff welcome communications from any institutions holding Type specimens that have yet to be included in the database.
The Conservation and the Environment program will close in 2013 as part of the Foundation's long-term plans to focus on the humanities and the arts. Proposals continue to be accepted for the Plants Initiative and from extant grantees to provide an orderly close to the Research Bridges to South Africa programs.
Under the guidance of its representative in South Africa, Stuart Saunders, the Foundation promotes programs at key South African universities to produce the next generation of scholars and advance research and teaching in an innovative and purposeful way.
The University of Pretoria reached a milestone in its history in 2009. Once a strong supporter of apartheid and a hotbed of Afrikaner nationalism under the Nationalist government, the university turned a corner and appointed its first woman, its first person of color, and its first English-speaker as its vice-chancellor. A discretionary grant was awarded to support the new vice-chancellor's initiatives.
The Foundation's main thrust of support continued in the area of postgraduate fellowships, with grants targeting masters and doctoral students awarded to Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town. A portion of the award to Stellenbosch was allocated to postdoctoral fellows, and the University of the Witwatersrand received a grant that focused solely on postdoctoral fellowships. Postdoctoral fellows, from within South Africa and abroad, infuse the research culture of these universities with their intellectual energy. An award for the visiting fellows program at the University of the Western Cape was also intended to stimulate scholarly inquiry. The desire to attract overseas scholars—whether postdoctoral or visiting fellows—is an important component of both programs. Visiting fellows in particular are renowned scholars whose interactions and collaborative research with academic staff and postgraduate students revitalize the university with new ways of thinking, thereby strengthening the overall quality of scholarship.
In 2006, a senior research scholars program was launched at several South African universities. It paired distinguished retired faculty with junior faculty to create a mentoring relationship that would facilitate the transfer of skills from an aging generation to the next one. These senior research scholars guided junior faculty in areas such as research design and development, preparation of research proposals, writing for publication, identifying external funding opportunities, and building professional networks. This successful program has not only bolstered the careers of junior faculty but has also allowed emeritus faculty to feel engaged and useful within the academic community. In light of these positive results, Rhodes University and the University of Stellenbosch received grants to implement this program on their campuses while the University of Cape Town received renewal support.
Finally, the promotion of scholarship in the humanities continued with grants for research centers and teaching tools. At the University of the Witwatersrand, funds supported the establishment of an interdisciplinary Centre for the Creative Arts of Africa, while the University of Cape Town received a grant for OpenUCT, a program that digitizes learning and research materials and makes them accessible online for the entire campus community.