Morehouse College, Prairie View A&M University & Spelman College Receive $3M in Grants from Carnegie, Mellon and Rockefeller Foundations to Support Faculty Development
Morehouse College, Prairie View A&M University and Spelman College announced today that they are the recipients of $3 million in grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Rockefeller Foundation, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of faculty on their campuses. Excellence and student success at historically Black colleges and universities rely on pedagogically innovative, research-active and creative faculty who provide students with the tools that enable them to take responsibility for their learning. The grants allow the colleges to provide an array of faculty support structures and require the three institutions to share best practices with each other and with the broader HBCU community.
Prairie View received $1 million from Mellon. Carnegie awarded $1 million to Morehouse and $500,000 to Spelman, which also received $500,000 from Rockefeller.
“Faculty are the heart of a liberal arts education. At historically Black colleges and universities, heavy teaching loads often get in the way of professional development, time for research and/or creative production. Yet, time for these activities not only keeps faculty current in their fields but provides undergraduate research opportunities for our students,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “We are grateful for the foresight of the Carnegie, Rockefeller and Mellon foundations in making this historic gift to Spelman, Morehouse and Prairie View. We anticipate using a portion of the funds as well to document and disseminate the innovative teaching strategies that have accounted for the academic success of Spelman students.”
Over their histories, HBCUs like these three institutions have engaged high-quality faculty, who are attracted to their unique institutional missions to educate talented, hardworking minority student populations. In the last decade or so, however, despite the growing need to educate more underrepresented minorities who comprise a larger portion of the college-age population, market pressures have made it increasingly difficult for HBCUs to recruit top faculty and support their development after hire. The foundations’ critical support of these new faculty development programs leverages these institutions’ history of success preparing scholars and leaders of African descent for lives of impact and meaning.
“Our founder Andrew Carnegie was concerned about the lack of educational opportunities for African Americans. As a result, in 1900 he made a grant of $20,000 to Tuskegee University to fund the construction of its library, the first of 13 grants to the institution,” said Vartan Gregorian, Ph.D., president of Carnegie. “Throughout its history, Carnegie Corporation of New York has continued to invest in a range of organizations serving African Americans, including historically Black colleges and universities, civil rights organizations, the National Urban League since 1921, the United Negro College Fund since 1946, as well as more recent grants to support reforms in K-12 and higher education. We are pleased to help ensure the future health and welfare of the faculties of our country’s HBCUs through these latest grants to Morehouse and Spelman colleges.”
The colleges’ plans to deepen and expand faculty development through the generous grants from the foundations support the institutions’ innovative and effective teaching, excellent academic outcomes, robust research and creative activity.
Morehouse College: Morehouse will use the grant funds to support the new program, Modeling 21st Century Faculty Development at HBCUs. The program will help to make the college more competitive in attracting and retaining top talent by providing funds for start-up packages and robust opportunities for faculty growth and development. Morehouse also plans to reduce the teaching loads of existing faculty and provide support at critical stages of the faculty’s developmental life cycle.
In addition, grant funds will be used to increase faculty research productivity by providing sabbaticals, seed funding, and workshops to enhance the effort. Success of the grant program at Morehouse will be documented using metrics such as the number of faculty applying for full professorships, applications received for posted job openings, credit hours taught, faculty satisfaction, and the frequency of grant and manuscript submissions. This program will allow Morehouse to continue its tradition of excellence in the 21st century and beyond.
“On behalf of the Morehouse College community, I would like to thank the Carnegie Corporation of New York for supporting our efforts to recruit top educators to the classrooms of Morehouse,” said David A. Thomas, Ph.D., president of Morehouse. “Our mission to develop men who are academically excellent and committed to leadership and service can only be realized if the education that we offer is taught by professors who are innovators in their fields and are dedicated to helping our scholars to succeed.”
Prairie View A&M University: Over the past several years, Prairie View has made faculty development a top priority. Reducing teaching loads, creating avenues for faculty to attain tenure and opening more tenure track opportunities have been hallmarks of the institutional plan. Prairie View will use the generous funding from Mellon to continue enhancing the ranks of its faculty by identifying effective practices in faculty recruitment, advancement and retention. Additionally, the funds will support the establishment of a Center for Faculty Excellence that will track and monitor scholarly output and professional engagement across the spectrum of academic programs.
“The single most important indicator of a successful university is its faculty. If historically Black colleges and universities wish to compete on a global level for top students, grant funding, awards and recognition, we must pay particular attention to how we recruit, develop and retain highly qualified faculty,” said Ruth J. Simmons, Ph.D., president of Prairie View. “I am grateful to the Mellon Foundation for providing Prairie View with the funding to do this critical work and I look forward to sharing our findings for best practices across the HBCU landscape.”
“The Mellon Foundation enthusiastically recognizes Ruth Simmons’ wise, visionary leadership with a grant to Prairie View A&M that will help ensure that the school’s top faculty are fully supported in their long-term professional development,” said Elizabeth Alexander, president of Mellon. As the largest funder of the arts and humanities in higher education in the U.S., Mellon has a long-standing record of supporting excellence, diversity, inclusion, and access in its grantmaking programs, and since its earliest years, has consistently supported HBCUs.
Spelman College: Academic excellence requires faculty excellence. The Carnegie and Rockefeller grants enable Spelman to provide enhanced support to its excellent faculty by investing in their continuing development as teachers and scholars. Specifically, the grant supports faculty plans to grow the curriculum in areas of emerging importance and nurtures their trajectories as leaders on campus and in their respective fields.
Spelman’s strategic plan identifies faculty as “The Spelman Difference” because the college’s distinguished and dedicated faculty are the drivers of student success. These generous grants will enable Spelman to expand our support of our faculty and to share with Morehouse and Prairie View what is learned over the next five years about the strategies that work to recruit and retain excellent faculty in an era of heightened market competition.
Spelman will use the funds to support faculty success, recruitment and retention efforts through the awarding of “Distinguished Scholar/Maker” grants and course-release funding for academic departments, seed grants to develop curriculum in emerging areas like data science and analytics, research grants for global learning and accessing international archives, furthering strategic partnerships that advance faculty research and grantsmanship training for junior and mid-career faculty.
The funding will allow Spelman to create a sustainable action plan for development, and host off-campus writer/maker retreats for faculty to focus on scholarly and creative endeavors common to the academy, including complete books, book proposals, articles, manuscripts and screenplays. Spelman will also use the awards to gain membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity for professional development, training and mentoring through the organization, which has a proven record of success in improving productivity.
“The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to support this effort to ensure historically Black colleges and universities continue to thrive and promote equal opportunity and academic excellence to its diverse community of scholars and alumni,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of Rockefeller. “This mission is as important now as it was when John D. Rockefeller Sr. and Laura Spelman Rockefeller first committed resources to Spelman College in 1882. Today, we honor their legacy with a grant to support the development of the next generation of women leaders at Spelman.”
Morehouse, Prairie View and Spelman will participate in a “shared lessons convening” every other year to inform best practices and amply the benefits of the faculty support efforts.
Increasing the number of full professors has been an ongoing focus of HBCU leadership nationwide for decades. Some of the major work happening in this area includes the training provided by The HBCU Faculty Development Network and the Faculty Career Enhancement Program, a partnership between the United Negro College Fund and Mellon. The Network empowers faculty with the tools to promote effective teaching and learning practices that will enable students to become engaged, lifelong learners, while the Career Enhancement Program helps HBCUs that are UNCF members to attract, support and re-train faculty in the social sciences and humanities through professional development and career enhancement initiatives.
The generous support from Carnegie, Mellon and Rockefeller foundations will allow Morehouse, Prairie View and Spelman to build upon these efforts with their plans for faculty development.