Illinois Wesleyan Awarded $350,000 Grant to Strengthen Teaching and Student Engagement
Jan. 21, 2016
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $350,000 grant to
Illinois Wesleyan University to develop a comprehensive, three-year program of new
curricular approaches and pedagogical reform. The primary aim of the initiative, entitled
Engaging Tomorrow’s Students, is to increase student engagement and enhance learning outcomes.
Provost and Dean of the Faculty Jonathan Green noted Illinois Wesleyan’s student population
has significantly diversified in recent years with regard to racial and ethnic minorities,
first-generation college students and students who are eligible for Pell Grants. “In
addition to a greater breadth of ethnic, geographic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds,
our students display a much more varied range of preparation and learning experiences
from those enrolled when our current curriculum was created,” said Green. He also
noted that faculty and administrators have indicated they could be better prepared
to meet the intercultural needs of today’s students.
To strengthen pedagogy and increase interdisciplinary offerings, the grant will allow
Illinois Wesleyan to establish four major initiatives. These include: team-taught
interdisciplinary courses that experiment with varied ways of teaching; curricular
and pedagogical symposia; campus teaching mentors; and workshops on the humanities
and intercultural communication.
Funds from the grant will be used for guest speakers; grants for faculty members to
develop specific projects within their courses; stipends for workshops, training and
mentors; and the salary for a visiting assistant professor of humanities.
Associate Dean for Curricular and Faculty Development Lynda Duke will serve as project
director and coordinate implementation of the grant. Green said the university’s Andrew
W. Mellon Center for Curricular and Faculty Development will be the home for the work
of the Engaging Tomorrow’s Students project. The Mellon Center has also been home to the work of several previous grants
from the Mellon Foundation: a $300,000 grant for Re-Centering the Humanities in 2013; a $250,000 grant to support writing and information literacy in 2012; and
a $175,000 grant in 2008 to develop a writing curriculum in the sophomore year.
“This is a propitious time in the University’s history as we fulfill our mission’s
commitment to being a diverse community, but we do not have the resources required
to retool most effectively,” said Green. “This grant makes it possible for us to adapt
to a new generation of students, strengthen our teaching, and reform our curriculum
to the best advantage of our students and the institution. The project will help us
provide the educational support all students deserve.”