Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards $700,000 Grant to Puget Sound

October 11, 2012

Funds support research sabbaticals for junior faculty, enhancing teaching and learning


TACOMA, Wash. – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded University of Puget Sound a $700,000 grant to support sabbaticals for pre-tenure faculty members, the university announced today.

The funding for 20 junior faculty sabbaticals over three years will enhance Puget Sound’s ability to attract and retain the highest-quality teaching staff, to provide new faculty with opportunities for research and renewal of their pedagogy, and to give students the unparalleled benefit of studying with professors at the forefront of currency in their fields.

“We want to thank the Mellon Foundation for the tremendous support they have given Puget Sound over the years, and particularly for this important grant, which directly sustains our unqualified commitment to excellent teaching,” said Puget Sound President Ronald R. Thomas. “By allowing junior faculty the time to renew their leadership in their fields, to explore new ideas, and to develop new curricula and research, we ensure that their ability to provide the very best in learning is revitalized and advanced.”

The value of such funding to faculty, students, and the campus as a whole is illustrated by the results of an earlier grant for junior faculty sabbaticals from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, five years ago. Comments from the 25 faculty recipients of the one-semester awards indicate the grant allowed them to further their scholarly development at a critical time in their careers and to create an even more vital and intellectually-engaging educational experience for students.

“Reading widely during my sabbatical helped me refill my mental reservoir of ideas and develop two new classes, which I have since taught …,” wrote Katherine Smith, associate professor of history. “The Mellon Award also enabled me to draft a substantial portion of my forthcoming first monograph . . . and to turn a conference paper into an article, which has since been published in a leading journal in my field.”

Kriszta Kotsis, associate professor of art, wrote that the award “… gave me an opportunity to interact with fellow scholars more extensively than it would be possible during a normal semester.”

Gwynne Brown, assistant professor of music, noted that, “My engagement with the musicological field as a researcher and writer, which the Mellon award dramatically intensified, has attracted the interest of several of my students, some of whom … have come to my office to talk to me about my scholarship.”

The results of the earlier grant were also seen in Puget Sound’s enhanced ability to attract top-choice candidates for open faculty positions, in the low attrition rate within the teaching body, and in the excellence of scholarship submitted by faculty who came due for tenure.

Puget Sound aims to continue to extend the opportunities for both junior and senior faculty sabbaticals through endowment gifts. A key goal of the $125 million capital campaign—One [of a Kind] The Campaign for University of Puget Sound—which launched last fall, is to generate $2.5 million for endowment specifically to support faculty sabbaticals in perpetuity.

The generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation allows Puget Sound to steward its resources and maintain its support of both pre- and post-tenure faculty sabbaticals, with the aim of further enriching Puget Sound’s nationally-recognized, liberal arts education experience.

To read more about the One [of a Kind] capital campaign visit: http://www.pugetsound.edu/one-of-a-kind/

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