Mount Holyoke Selected for $2.5 Million Centers of Excellence Mellon Grant

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 - 14:22
For Immediate Release
March 26, 2007

Please contact Kevin McCaffrey,
413-538-2987
or Allison Gillis,
413-538-2030

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass.--The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $2.5 million Centers of Excellence grant to Mount Holyoke College to support the creation of a new Nexus program. Building upon the foundation of a liberal arts major, the Nexus program will encourage students to connect the curricular and cocurricular, book learning, and experiential learning. Designed to draw students into the powerful nexus of learning and engagement that is at the heart of the College's mission, the new program is intended to prepare women for citizenship and leadership in the twenty-first century. Funding for the program, which will include $9 million in matching funds raised by the College, will support a Nexus internship endowment, four new faculty positions, and a named scholarship program for 30 students each year. Sixteen colleges were invited to submit proposals to the Mellon Foundation for Centers of Excellence grants; Mount Holyoke is one of seven colleges chosen to receive these awards.

"Our proposal is a win-win-win situation," said President Joanne V. Creighton. "It addresses one of the great challenges facing women's colleges: how to highlight the advantages and opportunities of attending a place that puts women first. Showcasing the very essence of Mount Holyoke's mission--the alliance of excellence in the liberal arts with purposeful engagement in the world--the Nexus program offers articulated pathways for a more integrated and transformative educational experience."

In recent years, four new centers at Mount Holyoke have emerged from the faculty's engagement with interdisciplinary inquiry: The Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts, the Center for the Environment, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, and the Science Center. These centers connect the classroom to the world and engage students and faculty directly in some of the most critical issues of our time: leadership and public service, environmental sustainability, the impact of globalization, and the transformations being created by rapid developments in science and technology.

Through the new Nexus program, the College will offer concentrations affiliated with each of the four centers. All students will have the opportunity to elect a Nexus concentration in their sophomore year. Students who elect this program will complete a traditional major and pursue a Nexus certificate in lieu of a minor. Each Nexus concentration will include a significant experiential component--an internship or sustained research experience--as well as a capstone senior project or thesis. The College will raise a total of $11.5 million, including the funds from the Mellon grant, to endow four new faculty positions in disciplines related to the four centers, build an endowment for student internships, and provide financial assistance to a cohort of incoming students each year chosen for their academic promise and their leadership potential, social commitments, and diverse backgrounds. This initiative will continue the College's mission-centered renewal begun under the strategic Plans for Mount Holyoke 2003 and 2010.