Mellon Foundation awards $150,000 grant to support 'Choices for Bates' initiatives

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Bates College a $150,000 grant that recognizes President Elaine Tuttle Hansen’s leadership at Bates and supports three strategic projects: the Bates Arts Collaborative, a natural sciences and mathematics initiative, and strategies to advance learning in a residential liberal arts setting. That component includes a Learning Commons, an effort to encourage greater intellectual exchange in residence halls and a project to engage diversity as both a goal and a resource.

The award affirms Hansen’s idea to build momentum for Choices for Bates – the plan for Bates’ future released last fall following the Bates College faculty, staff and students’ two-year planning process.

“The Choices for Bates initiative is not your typical strategic plan that advances goals, objectives and mechanisms for every area of the institution,” Hansen said. “Rather, through our planning process, we identified three specific initiatives, among many choices, in which we will invest right now. A college cannot sensibly grow by doing everything all the time. You grow and improve by making smart choices. Our faculty, trustees and community have found agreement in these three strategic initiatives.”

The plan challenges members of the Bates community to “create the strongest possible web of relationships, academic programs and informal learning opportunities that extend throughout the College.”

“Projects like these not only define a residential liberal arts education, but also go to the heart of what is distinctive about Bates,” Hansen said.” With this, we are able to jump-start the key initiatives identified through our planning process. I am personally grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this gift to Bates, and for its long-standing support and appreciation for Bates’ educational mission in the liberal arts and sciences.”

According to key points in the grant proposal, Bates will:

  • Form an Arts Collaborative that will work across disciplines and campus/community borders to enhance and coordinate the vitality and visibility of the arts. In addition, online initiatives will expand the Arts Collaborative throughout the college community; achieve clarity about future arts leadership, goals and activities; and present new activities like arts-related first-year seminars under the auspices of the Bates Arts Collaborative;
  • Accelerate the faculty’s design of an integrated four-semester science and mathematics sequence for both science majors and non-science majors at Bates. With support from a previous Mellon Foundation grant, Bates faculty in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics are already working together on the redesign and integration of the science and math curriculums. New funds will allow two scholars to work in the upcoming semester to finish constructing the courses;
  • Implement a pilot project to expand and deepen one of Bates’ existing strengths: close, long-term contact between faculty and students working on real-world problems.
  • Create a Learning Commons to promote excellence, innovation, diversity and collaboration between in-class and out-of-class life;
  • Within the residential life program, help extend intellectual exchange beyond the classroom and strengthen students’ interpersonal skills; and
  • Offer specific activities to support teaching and learning about difference and diversity issues to help the community cultivate a more inclusive climate.

The complete “Choices for Bates: A Plan for Bates College” is available at:
http://www.bates.edu/Prebuilt/ChoicesforBates2010.pdf

In the past three years, the Mellon Foundation has awarded more than $1.6 million to Bates to enhance the integration of faculty scholarship and research. “This remarkable series of successful grant proposals is a tribute to the achievements and quality of the Bates faculty,” Hansen said.

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