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Wofford College Receives Grant From The Mellon Foundation

Thursday, November 21, 2002

SPARTANBURG, SC—Wofford College has received a $50,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The grant is being used to help further Wofford’s recent curriculum innovations, including the creation and expansion of learning communities and seminar courses.

Wofford received the grant after President Benjamin Dunlap was invited to attend a meeting of new presidents sponsored by the Mellon Foundation. The half-dozen presidents at the event were invited to apply for funding from the Mellon Foundation.

Dunlap says his proposal grew out of extensive consultation. “Having conferred with our faculty, I agreed that enhancing the curriculum should be our first big initiative,” he says. “The way to accomplish that was not to attempt to impose my own ideas, but to empower them to teach in the ways they’d always dreamed of teaching. Most of them wanted to undertake learning communities or roundtable seminars, and to help them get started, Dr. Dan Maultsby, dean of the college and vice president for academic affairs, provided a trio of special summer programs.”

Those programs were partially funded using the $50,000 Mellon grant. They included daylong workshops led by distinguished teachers from other colleges and universities as well as a four-day roundtable seminar led by veteran moderator Dr. Charles Reid. Individual course development grants for faculty offering the innovative courses also were made available. The college funded nearly $30,000 in addition to the Mellon grant; some of the college funding came from a National Science Foundation grant obtained based on the success of the pilot learning community offered in the Fall 2001 Semester, “The Nature and Culture of Water.” That course links a freshman non-biology major course with a humanities course.

“The most inspiriting aspect of our undertaking,” Dunlap says, “is the unanimity with which our faculty has committed itself to curriculum revision. More than two-thirds of the faculty is directly involved in the new courses and programs.”