Carleton Awarded Mellon Foundation Challenge Grant for Postdoctoral Fellowships

23 March 2007

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $1.5 million matching grant to Carleton College that will support endowed fellowships in the humanities and social sciences. The Mellon challenge grant requires Carleton to raise $2 million ($1 million towards each fellowship) within a three year period, with the endowment fully in place by 2011. The Mellon Foundation has generously suggested that if a single donor provides the matching funds, the endowed fellowship position may be named in honor of that donor, with no formal acknowledgment of the Mellon Foundation.

Mellon Foundation support for postdoctorate fellow involvement at Carleton College has provided, and now will continue to provide, great benefits both for the scholars and for the College. The fellowships not only enable a department to provide research time for permanent faculty but also enable departments to explore new approaches to disciplines, bring in new perspectives, and envision advancement of programs.

The current Mellon Fellow in Linguistics, for example, is Aniko Csirmaz, whose presence has not only introduced students to a range of topics not previously available but also provided further evidence of student interest in the Linguistics concentration.Since the hiring and development of faculty represents a major investment by a college, the institution must plan its hiring and faculty development with the utmost care. Carleton’s overall goal for the Postdoctoral Fellowship program, therefore, is to link the program strategically to faculty development activities, whether those undertaken during regular sabbaticals or those proposed as part of a program of targeted release. The College has identified several initiatives in the humanities and social sciences that will benefit from hiring postdoctoral fellows. The aim of the College is to remain flexible and innovative, using postdoctoral opportunities strategically to respond to academic market conditions, emerging programs ideas, and the teaching interests and leave plans of our permanent faculty.

Given Carleton’s experience in implementing a postdoctoral fellowship program, the College anticipates a smooth transition from the current fellowship program to a permanent, endowed program. Carleton’s new postdoctoral program will continue to provide a two-year residence to a Fellow, and the residence will continue to provide an extended opportunity for a Fellow to develop skills and complete research while also providing great benefit to a department. Carleton is particularly interested in utilizing predoctoral fellowship opportunities to attract outstanding minority scholars to campus. We believe that a Fellow’s experience at Carleton can introduce the person to the possibility of a career at Carleton. The College has significance experience with predoctoral fellows, including young scholars who came to us between 1989 and 1992 on a program jointly sponsored by the Joyce Foundation and the Knight Foundation.

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