Faculty development grant awarded

The grant will fund a program to prepare humanities faculty to take on leadership roles at Mount Holyoke College and elsewhere.

The Five College Consortium has been awarded a $1.6 million grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create programming that will develop faculty members’ administrative leadership skills. Entitled “Building Academic Leaders in the Humanities,” the grant will fund a three-and-a-half-year program to prepare humanities faculty to take on leadership roles at Five Colleges’ member institutions — Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst — and elsewhere.

Elizabeth Markovits, associate dean of faculty, will be the point person for Mount Holyoke College on the grant team. 

“In higher education, especially at liberal arts colleges, we ask faculty to do it all. They are scholars and teachers — and campus leaders,” she said. “This is an opportunity to support faculty as they take on that crucial administrative work.” 

The program builds on a seminar held at Amherst College in 2020 for 24 faculty members interested in taking on or already occupying administrative roles. The success of the Amherst model led the chief academic officers of the Five College campuses to propose a collaborative leadership development effort across all five institutions. 

The Mellon Foundation funding will support two annual institutes, one designed for early- to midcareer faculty who are planning to take on their first administrative responsibilities and another for current faculty administrators looking to move into higher leadership roles. 

“Being a department chair is a managerial task,” Markovits said of the institute designed for early- to midcareer faculty. “Chairs have to work with budgets, staff reviews and development. There’s a huge value in training for administrative responsibilities across institutions — it’s really fertile to share best practices with other colleges and institutions.” 

Pawan Dhingra, Amherst College’s associate provost and associate dean of the faculty, will lead the grant team. Other members of the team include Michelle Budig, senior vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of sociology at UMass; Hélène Visentin, dean for academic development at Smith College and Yaniris Fernandez, associate vice president of academic affairs at Hampshire College. 

“Right now, the institutes are limited to the humanities,” Markovits said. “This could be a successful model for other divisions, however.” 

“The transition from faculty member to campus leader can be a challenging one, requiring a broad understanding of institutional operations and in-depth knowledge of the higher education landscape, and this program is intended to support faculty in moving into these roles skillfully,” said Five College executive director Sarah Pfatteicher, who will help lead the effort. “Our goal with this initiative is to develop a diverse pipeline of early- to midcareer humanities faculty who are prepared to take on administrative roles at the Five College campuses and beyond.”

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