2012 Annual Report: President's Report



The year 2012 brought substantial change to the leadership of the Foundation and marked the end of one period in its history while preparing for the beginning of another.  After 17 years of devoted service as a Trustee and nine years as chair of the Board of Trustees, Anne Tatlock retired from the Board and was succeeded as chair by W. Taylor Reveley III.  Her commitment to the Foundation and its work was unswerving, and all who had the good fortune to work with her will remain deeply grateful.  In addition, two new Trustees joined the Board in the course of 2012, Katherine G. Farley and Kathryn A. Hall.  Finally, the Board carried out a search for a new president, since my own term of office concludes with the meeting of the Board in March of 2013.  My successor is Earl Lewis, a scholar and teacher of African American history and a Trustee since 2011.  Before joining the Foundation he was provost of Emory University and before that dean of the graduate school at the University of Michigan.  The Foundation is fortunate to have attracted someone who is both a talented scholar and a talented administrator and whose interests are so closely aligned with the work that the Foundation does.

I leave an extraordinarily talented group of colleagues, and I shall forever be grateful to them for the stimulation of working with them in support of the values that we share and the institutions that embody those values.  It has always been my view that our officers and program officers should be people with genuine accomplishments and standing in the fields that the Foundation serves.  In that sense, one could not imagine a stronger group.  I have learned from all of them and take pride in what they have enabled the Foundation to accomplish in what must be described as a rather difficult environment precisely for the fields that we serve.

We serve principally the humanities and the arts through grants to colleges and universities and to cultural institutions such as performing arts organizations, museums, and libraries.  Their environment has been made difficult above all by declining resources in the face of rising costs.  Other leading foundations have largely withdrawn from major support for these fields, and state and federal support—which was never very large in relation to the need—has declined precipitously, especially since the financial crisis.  The financial crisis has also had a lingering adverse effect on private support.  We ourselves suffered a sharp decline in resources in 2008, which prevented us from doing as much as we would have liked to help make good the losses suffered from other sources.  In some cases, notably public higher education, the losses have been far in excess of what we could possibly imagine making good.  We nevertheless increased our grantmaking to flagship public institutions.  But whether and to what degree we continue this kind of support must remain an open question, the answer to which will depend on the public's own commitment to public institutions.

The future health of the nation—economic, civic, and intellectual—depends to a very great degree on the health of public higher education.  Yet by and large, the public has been steadily disinvesting in it.  When—and if—this is lamented, it is usually in terms of the nation's need for scientific and technological talent of a kind that can fuel economic prosperity.  No one should doubt the importance of this.  But public institutions of higher education have a great deal more to contribute to the national life than prowess in science and technology.  Prowess in the humanities and the arts will be crucial to the quality of the nation’s civic and intellectual life—to the nation's ability to remain the leader in imagination and creativity and to its ability to engage effectively the great diversity of humankind around the globe.  Unfortunately, reductions in state support for public higher education often fall disproportionately on the humanities and the arts.

At the University of Michigan in the fiscal year 2011, state appropriations accounted for only 6 percent of total revenue, or $362 million of $5.656 billion.  At Berkeley, state appropriations in 2012 accounted for 10.5 percent of total revenue, down over 50 percent since 2003.  State appropriations at Berkeley in this period went from being the largest of the four largest sources of funding (along with federal research funding, philanthropy, and tuition) to being the smallest of the four, while tuition in consequence grew to very nearly the equal of the other two.  Once state support reaches as low as 10 percent or lower, one might be tempted to say that further cuts cannot possibly matter very much.  The trouble with this view is that there are many different colors of money flowing through large universities, and they are not all fungible.  One must first strip away from total revenue the revenues associated with federally funded research (including, it must be said, the overhead recovery), the medical center if any, and all of the revenues, including philanthropy, that are restricted to purposes such as the business school, the law school, the athletics programs, and a good deal else.  This makes state support a much larger share of the pie that is available to support the humanities and the arts, which in general have negligible external support.  This is especially true if one thinks of the teaching of the humanities and the arts to undergraduates.  Tuition, of course, becomes hugely more important in this sector of the pie as a result.  Thus, what might seem to be a modest decline in state support in the great scheme of things can compel very serious reductions in support for the humanities and the arts.

Similar phenomena are at work in private institutions even though state support is in general not at issue.  Much of the total revenue of private research universities is simply not legally available to support research and teaching, especially undergraduate teaching, in the humanities and the arts.  This puts enormous pressure on undergraduate tuition, especially since externally funded activities such as federally sponsored research in the sciences and engineering themselves put pressure on tuition because their sponsors do not cover the full cost of these activities.

Unfortunately, the general public does not understand these relationships, and perhaps it cannot be expected to.  This leaves it prey to ideologues of one kind and another.  What is worse, however, is that university trustees do not always understand these matters either and can fail to understand the nature of and the need for cross subsidies within an institution's different kinds of activities.  At this juncture it may not be surprising if I note that the rating agencies do not always seem to understand higher education either.

Just a couple of illustrations will suffice.  In rating the debt of universities, a familiar calculation is the ratio of debt to total revenues.  This is essentially meaningless and certainly does not enable any sensible comparison among institutions.  An institution with a large volume of federally sponsored research, for example, might have a more favorable ratio than one with little or no such research, never mind that the revenues from federally sponsored research are simply not available to support debt service that is unrelated to that research.  The same could be said of revenues from a medical center or from those parts of an endowment that are restricted to specific purposes within the institution.  A similar calculation is described as net tuition revenue, whether in the aggregate or per student.  This is described as gross tuition and fees less scholarship expense.  But if the entire source of the expense is restricted endowment, it will appear to have very low net tuition whereas in fact 100 percent of the gross tuition is available as unrestricted income.  That is a very different situation from the one in which every dollar of scholarship expense comes from the dollars that are collected as gross tuition, with the result that unrestricted revenue may be a great deal less than gross tuition (i.e., than the "sticker price" of tuition times the total number of students).  There are institutions at both ends of this distribution, though most are of course somewhere in between.

Is higher education a business?  Of course it is.  But it is important to know what kind of business it is and how it works.  GAAP accounting statements do not suffice for the purpose.  Simultaneously, it is a business in which the United States has over a long period (at least since World War II) made significant and wise investments; the nation must continue to make such investments steadily into the future.  The country has now entered a period of needing to catch up with other countries that have in recent decades invested more.

In writing about support for higher education I have referred to "the humanities and the arts" as if they were all one thing.  At a minimum it is important that they be thought of as closely related.  A convenient division of labor within the Foundation has separated programs in higher education, the performing arts, and scholarly communications.  But we have strived steadily in recent years to ensure that our grantmaking in these fields is carried out in concert.  The challenge in higher education and in society at large is to ensure that the arts are not seen simply as ornaments on life itself—the activities that serious people may (or may not) turn to after the real work of the day is done.  Mario Vargas Llosa, a winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, writes about this in his recent La civilización del espectáculo (The Civilization of Spectacle) and comments on it in an interview in El País.  It would be a tragedy, he writes, if culture turned out to be pure entertainment.  Spectacle, he observes, is the sacrifice of a view of the long term for the short term, the immediate.  In our time, serious criticism of the arts has disappeared, the resulting vacuum being filled by advertising, which now plays "the dominant role in the formation of taste, sensibility, imagination, and custom."  This is not to say that everyone can or should be cultured in the same way or that culture should be "fossilized."

The Foundation has thus invested significantly in helping colleges and universities to ensure that the arts are part of the intellectual fabric of the institution and not consigned to the extracurricular.  This has entailed bringing into a much closer relationship the study of the arts and the actual making of art of all kinds.  It has meant drawing campus museums and performing arts presenting organizations into the mainstream of academic life alongside the traditional academic departments.  Similarly, it has meant supporting the development of technologies for scholarly communication that facilitate access to artistic production itself as well as to scholarship about that production.  All of this in some degree swims against the tide of mass culture and a disinvestment in the arts and cultural organizations that parallels the disinvestment in higher education.  The disinvestment may be greatest in primary and secondary schooling, where arts programs have been eviscerated nationwide, and this in itself will constrain the future growth of audiences for the arts and thus the kinds of cultural organizations that bring the arts to the public at large.  This Foundation cannot alone reverse this tide any more than it can alone reverse the tide on which higher education is being borne.  But we can at least through our support attempt to strengthen the resolve of institutions that, like us, believe that the humanities and the arts are central to any life that one should want to live.

With the meeting in March of 2013, the Foundation's Board will have approved over $5 billion in grants since the first grants were made in 1969.  Emphases have changed over time, and whole programs have come and gone.  The arts and the humanities have been constants, however.  As support for these activities from other sources has declined, we have further concentrated our own support of them in recent years.  Fortunately, we have remained a small and very efficient organization and thus able to respond to changing circumstances.  That and the talent of our program officers will enable the Foundation to continue to support and promote a rich and rewarding intellectual and cultural life for the nation.

Don M. Randel
February 2013

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Research Universities and Scholarship in the Humanities

Research Universities and Scholarship in the Humanities

Vice-Presidents Philip E. Lewis and Mariët Westermann continued to exercise joint responsibility for the program in 2012.  Ms. Westermann was responsible for grants to US universities and to institutes for advanced study, as well as for collaborations between Research Universities and Scholarship in the Humanities (RUSH) and other Foundation programs.  Mr. Lewis managed Mellon-based competitions such as the Sawyer seminars and New Directions program, grants to humanities centers, and arrangements with regranting organizations.  RUSH also served as a conduit for grants that reached beyond the sphere of higher education and reflected the Foundation's interest in the role of the humanities in the world at large.  In particular, it provided to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences three grants, two in support of the Humanities Indicators project and a third that funds the second phase of the academy's National Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Among the organizations that administer Foundation-funded fellowship programs for graduate students, recent PhD recipients, and scholars who teach in US and Canadian universities, the most prominent over the past two decades have been the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).  Both received additional support in 2012 for postdoctoral fellowships.  The ACLS was able to expand support for a postdoctoral program that places recent PhDs in the humanities in positions in public agencies and nonprofit organizations, while a grant to the SSRC supported a pilot transregional studies program focused on Asia.  Significant support was also provided to the National Humanities Center for a residential program that awards more than 30 fellowships annually to scholars who spend a semester or year at the center.  A number of institutions—the American Philosophical Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Universities of North Carolina and Toronto, University College London, and Yale University—received grants for postdoctoral fellowships in the humanities and the arts.  Within the program, there were continuing discussions about the implications of postdoctoral fellowships in the humanities for the academic profession.  After the 2008 financial downturn, the Foundation began sponsoring a national competition for humanities postdoctoral positions in universities, designed and administered by the ACLS.  This program, while continued at a reduced level in 2012, will expire in 2013.

RUSH maintained its annual investment of approximately $5 million in the Sawyer and New Directions programs for which groups of distinguished scholars select the winning applicants.  The Sawyer program, named after former Foundation president John Sawyer, enables interdisciplinary groups of faculty to come together in yearlong seminars devoted to the comparative study of culture.  This year awards of $175,000 each were made to: Brandeis, Emory, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, New York, and Ohio State Universities, and the Universities of California at Santa Barbara, Pennsylvania, and Southern California.  The New Directions program provides funding over a period of three years to scholars who, at a point six to ten years beyond completion of the PhD, seek to pursue formal study in fields other than those in which they hold their degrees.  A total of $3.5 million was allocated to the 15 scholars whose projects were selected.  In addition, in the spring of 2012, the Foundation responded to the federal government's sharp reduction of funding for area studies programs in National Resource Centers (NRCs) on university campuses by making two relatively large grants.  First, one-time transitional awards of $750,000, designed to help the eight universities with the largest concentrations of NRCs adjust to decreased funding over the next three years, were awarded to Duke and Indiana Universities and to the Universities of California at Berkeley, California at Los Angeles, Chicago, Michigan, Wisconsin at Madison, and Washington.  Second, a renewable grant of $1.2 million was awarded to a consortium of Columbia, Cornell, and Yale Universities that will enable them to collaborate in the teaching of less commonly taught languages by using a common electronic platform.

RUSH support for interdisciplinary centers, reinforced during the past two years, continued in 2012.  It was marked by a major grant to the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, an international organization of more than 180 members, that will support collaborative research by groups of scholars working on historically important interdisciplinary problems at multiple sites in North America and around the world.  Other grants in support of humanities centers went to the Mahindra Center at Harvard University, the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, the Townsend Center at the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania Humanities Forum.  Alongside RUSH grants to these campus-based centers, it is appropriate to place grants to independent research institutes.  The most substantial of these was a $3 million endowment award, which matched a challenge of that amount, to support the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey.  Other grant recipients in this category included the Newberry Library, the New-York Historical Society, and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.  The University of Southern California and the Huntington Library jointly benefited from a grant in support of early modern studies.

Two important new initiatives, conceived and developed by Ms. Westermann and to be pursued in future years, were introduced in RUSH in 2012.  The first of these, launched in May under the rubric "Arts on Campus," distributed a total of nearly $6.5 million to three universities—Michigan, Notre Dame, and Princeton—for the integration of the design, making, and performance of art into their academic programs.  The objectives of the initiative include the enhancement of the formal study of the visual and performing arts and the development of opportunities for students to learn from professional artists who are brought to campus for residencies of flexible scope and duration.  The arts-on-campus initiative also embraces grants to presenting organizations that go beyond the traditional function of bringing artists, companies, or productions to campus, tying their presentations to the curriculum and to pedagogical experiments in the arts.  The beneficiaries of the first set of such grants, ranging from $700,000 to $800,000, were Cal Performances at the University of California at Berkeley, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  An innovative grant in close proximity to the arts-on-campus initiative provided $1.5 million to MIT for the establishment of a Center for Art, Science, and Technology.

The second major initiative, "Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities," began in December with four awards totaling more than $6 million to Cornell University, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the Universities of California at Berkeley and California at Los Angeles.  The initiative focuses on the city as it is being transformed during the current era of global urban expansion and aims to explore the forms of collaborative and interdisciplinary knowledge of the urban environment that the urbanized planet will require by midcentury, when 70 percent of the earth's population will inhabit cities.  These grants aim to forge relations between schools of architecture and programs in the humanities, to experiment with the architecture studio as a pedagogic model for the humanities, to support thought about the large, humanistic questions that arise in dense urban environments, and to promote broadly based research projects in major global cities.

The constellation of RUSH grants for the year included several grants in support of humanities academic programs and research projects in particular universities.  Exemplary among these was a grant to Yale that underwrites a four-year project aiming to construct a comprehensive plan for broadening humanities education, as well as a grant to the University of North Carolina for the development of a digital humanities curriculum.

Liberal Arts Colleges

Liberal Arts Colleges

The Foundation's Liberal Arts Colleges (LAC) program, led by Vice President Lewis and Program Officer Eugene M. Tobin, provides multiyear grants to liberal arts colleges.  In 2012, the challenges facing the liberal arts college sector—shifting student demographics, shrinking market demand, unsustainable increases in financial aid, demands for career-oriented programs, and the potentially disruptive innovation of online education—received more attention than the sector's traditional identity as the ideal provider of undergraduate education.  In order to steer the conversation toward new opportunities and well-reasoned scenarios for change, LAC supported a national conference—"The Future of the Liberal Arts College in America and its Leadership Role in Education around the World"—hosted by Lafayette College, in cooperation with Swarthmore College.  The 200 liberal arts college presidents, faculty, staff, and trustees that attended the conference did not ignore these demographic, financial, technological, or societal challenges but placed them in the context of demonstrated accomplishments in the areas of student learning, pedagogical innovation, student-faculty collaborative research, civic engagement, degree completion, and the creation of diverse, inclusive, and sustainable communities.  The strong case for the liberal arts articulated at the conference echoed LAC's commitments to four broad grantmaking programs: faculty career enhancement, curricular development and educational effectiveness, libraries and information technology, and presidential support.

As in past years, LAC responded to the curricular, pedagogical, and financial needs facing liberal arts colleges with a variety of grants in support of student- and faculty-centered activities at the institutional level, and through support of international, national, and regional consortia.  One of the perennial challenges facing liberal arts colleges is finding a way for a limited number of faculty to teach the breadth and depth of a 21st-century curriculum and simultaneously help students develop their critical, creative, and intellectual capacities.  Helping institutions achieve these goals requires flexible, coherent curricular structures, ample support for faculty development, and a willingness to explore collaboration and partnerships with other institutions.  In 2012, LAC supported an array of interconnected institutional priorities designed to internationalize the curriculum, encourage interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship, create opportunities for undergraduate research in the arts and humanities, encourage the adoption of digital technology and pedagogies, and strengthen the integration of artistic practice, study abroad, and civic engagement into the curriculum.  Each of these pedagogical objectives and practices responds to the liberal arts college sector's growing interest in connecting what students learn in the classroom, laboratory, studio, library, and through fieldwork to what is going on in the world around them.

Throughout 2012, LAC worked with institutions to expand opportunities for undergraduate research in the arts and humanities, particularly in the digital humanities.  During its conversations with academic leaders, LAC posed a handful of baseline questions: Is the institution considering an incremental approach that expands a limited number of summer research experiences into a more inclusive and integrated model?  What plans does the institution have for integrating research pedagogies into the curriculum?  Beyond a commitment to digital literacy, what digital tools and methodologies is the institution prepared to support?  These questions inevitably led LAC to consider anew the vital role of faculty development.

Faced with the need to ensure the long-term renewal of their faculties, liberal arts colleges are closely attuned to the evolving stages of the professorial life cycle, as colleagues move through the tenure probationary stage, enter the long midcareer, and prepare for retirement.  In 2012, LAC made multipurpose grants that enabled colleges to facilitate faculty retirements, introduce curricular change, accelerate the external review of academic departments and programs, and implement plans for financial equilibrium.  As in previous years, these grants supported the strategic use of postdoctoral fellowships, bridging appointments of junior faculty, and a strong commitment to the maintenance of tenure-track as opposed to contingent faculty positions.

One positive outcome of the lingering economic downturn is that collaboration has emerged as an attractive proposition among a range of institutions that recognize the benefits, indeed, the necessity, of academic and administrative cooperation.  LAC's commitment to collaboration continued apace during 2012.  Support for consortial grants totaled more than $9 million and included two major initiatives.  A grant to the Great Lakes Colleges Association of $2.75 million supported internationalization of the curriculum, undergraduate research in the arts and humanities, introduction of the digital humanities, and hybrid learning.  A second grant of $4.7 million to Middlebury College, in a partnership with Connecticut and Williams Colleges with which 23 other liberal arts colleges are affiliated, supported the recruitment and training of diverse faculty.  A distinguishing feature of the latter grant was collaboration between the students and faculty of the liberal arts colleges and the faculty and graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University.

Other grants to consortia supported collaboration between the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of 13 major Midwestern research universities, with a focus on the digital humanities, undergraduate research, the creative and performing arts, civic engagement, and the less commonly taught languages.  A second grant to ACM supported faculty institutes that connect the economic stresses incurred by liberal arts colleges to concerns that directly affect faculty such as compensation, admissions and financial aid decisions, allocation of instructional resources, and access to instructional technology.  Planning grants to the Claremont University Consortium and to a collaboration of Carleton, Macalester, and St. Olaf Colleges supported future opportunities in the digital humanities.  The Five Colleges of Ohio received a grant supporting language pedagogy workshops for faculty in cooperation with The Ohio State University.  As in prior years, the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, based at Southwestern University, continued to assist the liberal arts college sector's integration of digital methods, pedagogies, and information resources into the humanities curriculum.

Diversity Initiatives

Diversity Initiatives

In July 2012, Armando I. Bengochea assumed responsibility for the Diversity Initiatives program, as well as the director's role for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program, following Carlotta M. Arthur's departure.  In addition, Lee Bynum, who had been working in the Scholarly Communications and Information Technology program at the Foundation, succeeded Lina Buffington in August 2012 as program associate and associate director of MMUF.

Shortly after arriving at the Foundation, Mr. Bengochea announced plans to conduct a formal review of MMUF in advance of its 25th anniversary in the spring of 2014.  A review committee, comprised of officers and program officers of the Foundation, along with MMUF coordinators and two institutional researchers, is analyzing the substantial data collected by the program since its inception.  Staff anticipate completing the review by the fall of 2013.

After more than two decades of expansion and refinement, MMUF is now an enterprise of considerable size and complexity.  As of March 2013, 4,063 MMUF Fellows had been selected, 484 PhD's had been earned by Fellows, 690 PhDs were in progress, and 58 Fellows are now tenured faculty members.  The program has entered a multifaceted and multi-generational phase.  Much of its work with graduate students is administered by the SSRC, which arranges for participants already in the professoriate to assist current Fellows attending graduate school with various aspects of their preparation and progress.  These current graduate students, in turn, reach out to undergraduate Fellows in order to facilitate their transition to doctoral work and access to the networked activity of the larger MMUF community.  Development of this community was at the center of 2012 grants to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for two programs.  One of these assists Fellows to complete dissertations while the other enables junior faculty members to take leave from their academic positions to prepare to stand for tenure.

Diversity Initiatives (DI) grants to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) continued to promote institutional capacity-building, initiatives in such areas of operation as curriculum and faculty development, enrollment management and planning, and library staffing and collections.  Other DI grants in 2012 renewed support for the American Indian College Fund for faculty development at tribal colleges and universities.  These awards aim to strengthen the teaching corps in these institutions by funding leaves that enable faculty members to complete terminal degrees in their disciplines.  Finally, DI support for institutions that offer summer research programs for students of color and others committed to student and faculty diversity was reaffirmed by the renewal of a grant to the longstanding, highly successful program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Scholarly Communications and Information Technology

Scholarly Communications and Information Technology

The Foundation's Scholarly Communications and Information Technology (SCIT) program was led in 2012 by Donald J. Waters and Helen Cullyer.  The mission of the SCIT program is to help ensure that academic and related cultural institutions disseminate widely the products of humanistic research and that they make easily accessible and preserve for future use the original sources, interpretive scholarship, reference materials, and other resources that humanistic scholars need for further research and teaching.  A critical factor that informs SCIT's grantmaking is the complexity of today's information environment, in which older analog media, such as print and film, coexist with rapidly changing digital technologies.  SCIT's objectives are to: (1) support libraries and archives in their efforts to preserve and provide access to materials, in any medium and format, of broad cultural and scholarly significance; (2) strengthen the publication of humanistic scholarship and its dissemination to the widest possible audience; (3) assist scholars in developing specialized scholarly resources that promise to open or advance fields of study in the humanities and humanistic social sciences; and (4) support the design, development, and implementation of information technologies that directly enhance scholarly research at the university and college level, or support the core operations of libraries, archives, museums, and performing arts organizations.

During 2012, SCIT continued to fund projects that help libraries reorganize their services so that they become more efficient and better serve the changing needs of scholars.  The New York Public Library began a Foundation-funded project in collaboration with Princeton and Columbia Universities to plan the development of a shared print collection at an off-site storage facility, while the British Library and the Folger Shakespeare Library received grants to collaborate with humanities researchers on digital projects using library collections.  Preservation grants emphasized both the development of new methods for the archiving of Web pages, personal digital "papers," and electronic journal content, and the ongoing need for skilled professionals to conserve legacy book and paper collections at major research libraries.  In the last of a series, SCIT made three grants to endow new senior conservator positions at the libraries of The Pennsylvania State University and the Universities of Michigan and Washington.

SCIT also continued to assist libraries and archives with critically important cataloging activities.  The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) administered, for the fifth consecutive year, the Foundation-funded Hidden Collections program, a national, peer-reviewed, competitive grantmaking program for the cataloging of undescribed special collections and archives in US institutions.  The Foundation's Trustees have approved continuation of the program for a further five years.

In the area of publishing, SCIT funded projects that will advance the development of broadly accessible digital publications.  The University of California at Berkeley received funds to create a new series of open access born-digital classical monographs.  Queen's University at Kingston in Canada was awarded a grant to make the transcriptions of Benjamin Disraeli's correspondence openly accessible online, and Yale University Press received a grant to plan for the production of electronic books in art history.

SCIT supported projects designed to help scholars build specialized digital content and tools that advance their fields and also contribute to the general development of software infrastructure for humanistic research.  In the area of medieval studies, Yale University received funds for three research projects that will demonstrate the potential uses and current limitations of online manuscripts, develop analytical tools necessary for scholarly use of these manuscripts, and set priorities for further technical development of interoperability standards and protocols created by Stanford University.  SCIT also made software development grants to Saint Louis University for a software tool to edit medieval manuscripts, and to the University of Cambridge in the UK for tagging and organizing its digitized collection of manuscript fragments originally recovered from the storeroom, or genizah, of a synagogue in Old Cairo, Egypt.

In the area of information technology, SCIT provided support for a project led by the University of California at Los Angeles to build a platform for virtual worlds research that will enable scholars to develop virtual reconstructions of historical environments and events.  The University of California at San Diego is enhancing the Software Environment for the Advancement of Scholarly Research, previously used for the analysis of text and music, so that it can be employed in the computational analysis of large corpora of images.  Two grants were made to fund experimental projects that will test hypotheses about the efficiencies and other benefits of "crowdsourcing," in which members of public online communities participate in scholarly projects: one to University College London to support the ongoing Transcribe Bentham project; and the second to Stanford University to fund a number of heterogeneous crowdsourcing projects in collaboration with HistoryPin, a not-for-profit public history program.  SCIT also continued to support development of open source systems for the management of library and archival collections, and with a further grant to LYRASIS, a library service organization, enabled it to offer consultation and hosting services to libraries that are selecting, implementing, and using open source products.

In addition to providing support for projects that develop scholarly resources and software infrastructure, SCIT made several grants to facilitate the training and professional development of scholars in digital resources and methods.  George Mason University received funds to support its digital humanities training program named THATCamp.  CLIR is administering a regranting program that will place five recent PhDs in medieval studies in postdoctoral fellowship positions in US and Canadian research libraries with responsibility for the curation of digital resources.  It is likely that SCIT will continue to fund the postdoctoral fellowship program and encourage it to include other fields of study.  Finally, Book Arts Press, Inc., also known as the Rare Book School, received support for a summer program in critical bibliography for faculty and graduate students in the humanities.  This program will provide humanists with the skills to analyze and describe the production and transmission of texts in manuscript, print, and digital form.

Performing Arts

Performing Arts

The Foundation's Performing Arts (PA) program was led in 2012 by Susan Feder.  A central objective is to assist organizations that encourage the creation, dissemination, and preservation of new and ambitious work.  Across the disciplines of music, theater, and dance, it often underwrites activities of direct benefit to composers, playwrights, and choreographers.  Acknowledging that their work can be analogous in interest and value to that of research undertaken by scholars, PA recognizes as well that experimentation and risk-taking may not always succeed.  However, over time, some of the resulting works may themselves become the subjects of scholarly research.  Just as important, the program also believes that organizations that foster and preserve inspiring artistic work need strong leadership and healthy balance sheets.  Accordingly, some PA grants provide contributions to organizational development and capitalization.

Among the most significant awards made in 2012 were grants to 14 theaters to support three-year, full-time salaried playwright residencies.  This initiative, which grew out of a multiyear investigation into new play development and production, built upon prior grants to the Public Theater (for its Master Writer's Chair) and to Arena Stage (for five multiyear salaried residencies).  The purpose of embedding playwrights—diverse in their aesthetics, career stage, and ethnicity—into theaters of varying sizes and locales is to provide opportunities for the artists to research and write without distraction as well as to have regular access to the theaters' extensive resources and to their artistic leaders (who selected the playwrights and committed to producing their work).  The expectation is that these arrangements will foster the creation of theatrically ambitious plays that lend themselves to more effective engagement with audiences and communities.  A separate grant to Emerson College will enable its principal investigators to document the residencies, hire locally-based producing fellows and oversee their work, distribute supplemental discretionary funds for the playwrights, and offer them short-term developmental workshops at the school.

Building on the success of a pilot program designed to facilitate more fully realized dance productions, the Foundation renewed seven PA grants—to a university-based development center, five leading dance presenters, and a dance collective.  Each incorporated multifaceted residency support for choreographers that included commissions, rehearsal and performance space, access to staff, and (most unusually but critically) dramaturgical resources.  Expanding the initiative, two additional grants went to a consortium of four established dance residency centers, whose combined and complementary efforts could yield more comprehensive programming than any of them could mount independently, and to the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which provided choreographers with resources to develop their work in multiple versions, both for traditional theatrical venues and unconventional locations.  In keeping with the Foundation's recent efforts to strengthen collaborations and to respond to touring needs of ensembles, performance artists, and artist collectives, PA recommended grants to the New England Foundation for the Arts to support its administration of the National Theater Project, and to the Network of Ensemble Theaters for its Touring and Exchange Network.  The program continued to assist international touring by funding regranting programs at the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the French American Cultural Exchange, and Theatre Communications Group.

PA grants provided production support to six opera companies and an independent production company that have exemplary commitments to commissioning and reviving new work.  Similarly, grants supported residencies, workshops, and productions at five leading theaters, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's American Revolutions: United States History Cycle.  The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Albany Symphony, and American Composers Orchestra were among orchestra grantees recognized for their commitment to living composers, while New Music USA (partnering with the American Symphony Orchestra League) received renewed support to coordinate long- and short-term composer residencies at American orchestras.

In the areas of documentation and dissemination, grants to the Martha Graham and Trisha Brown dance companies sought to help them preserve rapidly deteriorating films and videos.  The grant to Brown's company also funded the creation of a searchable online version of her archive.  The program continued to assist the Dance Heritage Coalition's Dance Preservation and Digitization Project, a secure, aggregated online resource for teaching and research.  A grant to New York Public Radio (NYPR) enabled its classical music station, WQXR, to partner with New York City cultural institutions to broadcast concerts live, record them for digital distribution, and preserve them in the NYPR archives.  The Boston Modern Orchestra Project received funding for the completion of ten premiere recordings by American composers.

Several PA grants furthered recent efforts to improve and strengthen organizational infrastructure.  An earlier commitment to National Arts Strategies' education programs, including its series of seminars for chief executives, was reaffirmed.  Planning grants to the American Symphony Orchestra League and the Chicago Sinfonietta helped advance their respective commitments to diversity and inclusion, while the San Francisco Symphony received funds for an audience membership program that will provide a flexible model for concert attendance.  The Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) received additional support to administer the Foundation's zero-interest loan program for eligible small- and midsized performing arts grantees.  Additionally, cash reserve grants were awarded to two organizations.

In Mr. Randel's final year as the Foundation’s president, he elected to use discretionary funds to advance a number of initiatives.  These included grants to:

  •     three orchestras—the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic—for research, experimentation, and the programming of ambitious offerings reflective of their music directors' visions;
  •     the Festival of North American Orchestras, supporting the final two years of the Spring for Music Festival, an annual showcase at Carnegie Hall featuring the distinctive artistic achievements of six orchestras;
  •     two presenters—Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center Festival—acknowledged for the capacious curatorial visions of their leaders and their stellar artistic offerings; the grant to Carnegie Hall also supported archival preservation and the recording of training workshops for young professional musicians; and
  •     NFF, to continue to administer the public-private ArtPlace collaboration, which distributes grants to advance "creative placemaking" efforts in US communities.

Finally, following Hurricane Sandy, the Foundation provided a number of performing arts and cultural institutions with emergency grants to help repair or replace damaged equipment.

Art History, Conservation, and Museums

Art History, Conservation, and Museums

In 2012 the Foundation's program in Art History, Conservation, and Museums (AHCM) continued to be led by Vice President Westermann and Associate Program Officer Alison Gilchrest.  AHCM supports the fields of art history and conservation through grants to museums, research centers, and universities.  Grants often support collaborative efforts among institutions.  The program maintained the Foundation's long-standing commitments to curatorial and conservation initiatives at the intellectual core of museums, to graduate training in conservation, and to the role of science in conservation, while expanding recently launched initiatives aimed at strengthening graduate art history education, scholarly resources for modern and contemporary art, and the development of digital research environments for art history and conservation.

The program continued its support for graduate programs in art history that wish to integrate exposure to object-based study and curatorial practice more fully into their curricula, usually in collaboration with museums on or off campus.  Under this initiative, grants were made to the Bard Graduate Center, the University of California at Berkeley, and Stanford and Yale Universities; dual grants were made to Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art as well as the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Two grants supported consortial collaborations between museums and multiple graduate programs in specific fields: a grant to the Smithsonian Institution will enable the Freer and Sackler Galleries and other collections of Chinese art to host intensive collection-based workshops for faculty and students from North American PhD programs, and the Museum of Modern Art received support for a new graduate research consortium with five PhD programs in the New York area.  Six universities and colleges (Duke, Florida International, and Indiana Universities, and Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Wellesley Colleges) received final rounds of support under the Foundation's long-running College and University Art Museums initiative.  These grants are intended to generate academic collaborations among curators, faculty, and students around museum collections and exhibitions, including the development of new curricula across the disciplines, especially at the undergraduate level.

Core curatorial functions of museums were supported with grants for curatorial positions and postdoctoral fellowships (at the Museum of Contemporary Art—Chicago, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology, and the Worcester Art Museum) and installation planning (the Brooklyn Museum).  AHCM also supported efforts to address structural problems in the curatorial cohorts of US art museums: a relative shortage of curators who are well prepared to take up leadership positions in a period of rapid generational turnover at the helm of the nation's museums, and a pervasive and increasingly anachronistic lack of demographic diversity among curators.  A grant to the AAMC Foundation supports fellowships in the Center for Curatorial Leadership, which trains midcareer curators for leadership positions; a grant to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art enabled it to work with other metropolitan museums in planning a curatorial fellowship program aimed at introducing students of a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to the curatorial profession.

Recognizing the vital role of art museums as institutions of scholarship, the program supported a range of curatorial research activities at the Art Institute of Chicago, International Center of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Walker Art Center.  Grants in support of large research initiatives that are focused on specific regions and periods were made to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (for a new program on the art of the ancient Americas) and the Tate Gallery (for the establishment of a Tate Research Centre on modern and contemporary art of the Asia-Pacific region).  The Research Forum at the Courtauld Institute of Art received renewed support for programs that bring together faculty, graduate students, and curators from the Courtauld and many other institutions around the world.  AHCM also continued its support of the British Museum's development of ResearchSpace, a collaborative, online research environment for the aggregation, finding, and study of cultural heritage data by art historians, conservators, and scientists.

The program supported essential conservation functions at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, and Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, each of which received a grant in support of a chief conservator position; a grant to the George Eastman House lent core support to its conservation department.  To strengthen the preparation of conservators for working with contemporary art and artists, support was renewed for the artist interview methodology project of the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art—North America.

AHCM began to make new grants in support of science in conservation, having completed a review of the Foundation's decade-long investment of more than $50 million in strengthening the role of science in museum laboratories and conservation graduate programs.  The review found that analytic and broader scientific inquiry in museum settings has become an ingrained, valued, and even expected component of conservation practice in most of the museums that received support under the Foundation's science initiative.  Through the establishment of postdoctoral positions in conservation science laboratories, a new cohort of chemists and materials scientists dedicated to cultural heritage materials has emerged.  The most successful and sustainable approach to science in conservation appears to require consolidation of groups of scientists in conservation laboratories that have access to collections and to constant dialogue with conservators and curators.  Several of the most successful initiatives involved collaborative relationships between museums and universities, which offer access to a wide range of faculty specialties, student talent, and shared equipment.  In response to the review, the program made an unusually large grant to Northwestern University to extend its extant science collaborations with the Art Institute of Chicago by establishing a Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts that will facilitate research inquiries by conservation scientists from other institutions as well as generate its own research projects.  Harvard University received support for an endowment that will enable the Straus Center to maintain its postdoctoral fellowships in conservation science in perpetuity.

Although the work of the program is focused on US institutions, AHCM's support for innovative and exemplary initiatives has also involved collaborations between American institutions and counterparts abroad.  In an era of rapid globalization of art history, conservation, and the museum sector, the program's funding of international projects beyond Europe has increased.  Many of the grant-funded initiatives already mentioned entail sustained and reciprocal engagement with the arts and art institutions of Asia and Latin America.  International grants also supported a pilot fellowship program for emerging conservators from India, to be conducted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg in collaboration with the Indian Ministry of Culture, and the establishment of a new honors degree program in curatorship at the University of Cape Town in collaboration with the Iziko Museums.

Conservation and the Environment

Conservation and the Environment

The Foundation's Conservation and the Environment program, led by William Robertson IV, continued efforts begun in 2003 to help a consortium of over 275 herbaria from more than 70 countries 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 2,230,000 images and associated data: 1,590,000 Types and historical specimens; 190,000 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 and other online resources.  The database is available online at JSTOR (http://plants.jstor.org).  The Foundation welcomes 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 in accordance with 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 in order to bring the program's Research Bridges to South Africa programs to an orderly conclusion.

Special International Emphasis: South Africa

Special International Emphasis: South Africa

Under the guidance of its senior advisor in South Africa, Stuart J. Saunders, the Foundation continued to support programs at key South African universities in 2012.  The programs are designed to produce the next generation of scholars and advance humanities research and teaching in innovative and purposeful ways.

A grant to support doctoral candidates was awarded to the University of the Witwatersrand, and a Humanities Unit was established at Rhodes University.  The latter grant included support for doctoral and postdoctoral students.  Funds were also used to establish doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships in rhetoric at the University of Cape Town (UCT).  At the University of the Western Cape, grants were made to support research in the Center for the Humanities and also for critical agrarian studies.  The Universities of Pretoria, Stellenbosch, and Cape Town received funds for the development of junior and midcareer faculty.  Funds for two lectureships over three years allowed UCT to support two research professors in the humanities.

An award was made to the Data First Unit at UCT to help ensure accurate statistical data in South Africa and improve access to data in countries throughout Africa.  Also at UCT, funds supported the use of technology in teaching in the humanities.

Support was also given to the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra for its outreach and educational programs, which include the youth orchestras and Music Academy.  The W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University received funds for the Mandela fellowship program, which allows scholars from UCT to attend the institute.