July 06, 2016

Lewis & Clark Secures Mellon Grant to Support Faculty Excellence in Teaching

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Lewis & Clark $705,000 to develop a Teaching Excellence Program, a coordinated program that will support faculty in the exploration, systematic study, and targeted enhancement of their classroom teaching. The award follows a previous Mellon grant to support undergraduate research in the arts and humanities.

Lewis & Clark has secured a $705,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will provide resources to faculty members to support them in strengthening and expanding their teaching expertise. Over the next four years, the college will implement the new Teaching Excellence Program in order to create collaborations among faculty and to support them in refining and sharing teaching practices with their colleagues.

“This grant continues Mellon’s legacy of supporting and enriching a centerpiece of the liberal arts experience at Lewis & Clark: high-quality, innovative teaching that puts students first,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, dean of Lewis & Clark’s College of Arts and Sciences. “I am especially grateful to Mellon for their recognition of our ongoing commitment to inclusive excellence in undergraduate education.”

Professor of Psychology Jerusha Detweiler-Bedell, who has previously served as the college’s Distinguished Teaching Consultant, will serve as the director of the Teaching Excellence Program. In 2008, Detweiler-Bedell won the United States Professor of the Year Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“Our faculty are deeply committed to excellence in teaching, but the College has not had – until now – a centralized program to encourage faculty development as teachers across the span of their careers. I can think of no better way to support my colleagues and our students than to direct a program that will bring us together to explore and implement innovative and inclusive pedagogical techniques.”

The program will focus on helping professors to develop and assess new pedagogical approaches and to incorporate active learning into the classroom, with the goal of best serving the needs of Lewis & Clark’s students. By offering workshops and hosting a speaker series, the Teaching Excellence Program will dovetail with the efforts of other on-campus programs, such as the Center for Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement and the Writing Center.

“An increasingly diverse generation of students is challenging faculty members across the nation to create rigorous academic environments that foster equity, creativity, and innovation,” said Eugene Tobin, senior program officer at the Mellon Foundation.  “We are very pleased to support Lewis & Clark’s efforts to establish learning environments that encourage, challenge, and inspire all of their students.”

Past grants from the Mellon Foundation also have focused on collaboration: in 2012 Lewis & Clark received a grant to support collaborative research between faculty and students. This has given faculty members in the arts and humanities the freedom to explore projects that require more hands-on activity, while many students have had the opportunity to engage in one-on-one research with professors who are leaders in their field.