UC Berkeley News


Mellon grant to enhance arts and humanities research

| 26 September 2007

A $2.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will provide a substantial boost for research by Berkeley faculty in the arts and humanities.

The funding establishes two new programs to support associate professors. The Mellon Research Grant Program augments current campus funding levels for research for recently tenured faculty members, and the Andrew W. Mellon Project Grant Program makes it possible for associate professors to pursue ambitious, large-scale research projects.

"The foundation's investment will provide a tremendous resource for our faculty, enabling them to raise their research aspirations and to explore new directions in the humanities," says L&S Dean of Arts and Humanities Janet Broughton. "The Mellon research grants and project grants will have a significant impact on humanistic inquiry and knowledge, both in the near term and for many years to come."

Twenty-seven associate professors in the Division of Arts and Humanities are currently eligible for the Mellon Research Grant Program, and approximately seven are expected to become eligible in each subsequent year. Through this program, faculty are eligible for five consecutive years of funding of $4,000 per year.

Faculty whose research has a clear humanistic focus - including those in the L&S Division of Social Sciences - can apply for support from the Mellon Project Grant Program. Grants of up to $35,000 will be awarded each year through this highly competitive program.

Support for associate professors is seen as critical to the future of the humanities at Berkeley. But limited funding for research has increased the challenge of ensuring that talented teachers and scholars find academic life on this campus satisfying, especially as peer institutions seek to lure them away. With the new Mellon grant programs, Berkeley will be better prepared to nurture promising research and offer competitive levels of support.

The Mellon Research Grant Program will help the associate professors further their work in many ways - for example, by funding travel to archives, libraries, museums, and conferences. The professors will also be able to conduct computer-based research requiring hardware and software that hasn't been available to them previously.

With an award through the Mellon Project Grant Program, associate professors will be able to undertake projects of significantly greater scope than before. The substantially larger awards that the program provides will expand their research options and opportunities.

"This funding will help Berkeley to remain attractive to these world-class teachers and scholars," says Broughton, "and this in turn will enable Berkeley to remain a strong and independent center for inquiry in the humanities."

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a longtime supporter of Berkeley and has funded projects across the campus, including many within the College of Letters and Science. This is among the largest grants it has made to an initiative on the campus. Berkeley now hopes to raise an additional $2.5 million for the Mellon programs to lengthen their lifespan.