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Mellon Foundation Supports New Humanities Collaborative

Published in spring 2015

Representatives of Case Western Reserve and Cuyahoga Community College are leading the Cleveland Humanities Collaborative. From left: David Bernatowicz and Sonja Siler (Tri-C); Beth Trecasa and Molly Berger (CWRU).

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a four-year, $1.55 million grant to Case Western Reserve University to support the Cleveland Humanities Collaborative, a new initiative developed in concert with Cuyahoga Community College. The collaborative will recruit Tri-C students with an interest in the humanities and offer them a pathway to earning bachelor’s degrees at CWRU.

As part of its mission, the collaborative will also strengthen ties between the humanities faculties at the two institutions through seminars, workshops and teaching exchanges. The idea is to create a scholarly and educational community spanning both campuses—a community that can ease the transition for students making their way from Tri-C to the university.

Leading the effort for Case Western Reserve are Molly Berger, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and instructor in the Department of History, and Beth Trecasa, assistant dean for strategic initiatives. Their Tri-C counterparts are David Bernatowicz, associate professor of history, and Sonja Siler, assistant professor of political science. A year-long planning process, bringing together more than 20 faculty members and administrators from the two institutions, is now underway.

During the grant period, the collaborative will accept a total of 45 students and guide them at each stage in their pursuit of a liberal arts education. While they are still enrolled at Tri-C, participants will be advised about course selection and encouraged to take one class each term at CWRU through a long-standing program available to Tri-C students generally. After their admission to the university, they will take part in a summer bridge program that provides instruction in humanities research and writing as well as an introduction to campus resources. As CWRU undergraduates, they will be mentored by humanities faculty members and graduate students and awarded funding for research projects in their disciplines.

“This is an exceptional opportunity to forge enduring relationships between the faculties of our institutions, and to attract students to CWRU’s humanities programs who might not have otherwise thought to transfer to the university,” Berger says. “The Mellon grant enables us to identify and mentor students and engage them in disciplines that will be foundational to their future careers. All of us in the collaborative are inspired by the hopes we have for our students and our commitment to the principles and importance of humanistic study.”

This is the second time in just over two years that the Mellon Foundation has funded a humanities collaboration involving Case Western Reserve. In 2012, the university and the Cleveland Museum of Art received two Mellon grants totaling $500,000 to support the redesign of their joint doctoral program in art history. Those grants became the catalyst for a gift by Nancy and Joseph Keithley, who committed $15 million to the two institutions to create the Nancy and Joseph Keithley Institute for Art History.

“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and particularly Dr. Mariët Westermann, the foundation’s vice president, have been exceptional partners to Case Western Reserve and Cleveland itself,” University President Barbara R. Snyder said. “We are grateful to them, and to our colleagues at Tri-C, for this opportunity to develop a truly innovative program to advance the humanities.”

Page last modified: February 9, 2017