Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

New horizons

Wheaton receives $700,000 grant

A new $700,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will allow Wheaton to hire four new and gifted post-doctoral teaching fellows working in emerging areas of humanities scholarship to enrich the college curriculum.

The grant will promote the development of outstanding undergraduate teaching faculty. In addition, it will assist Wheaton in long-term curricular planning, according to Provost Linda Eisenmann.

Wheaton will recruit new post-doctoral fellows in humanities disciplines where a senior faculty member is entering the college’s two- to three-year retirement program. The grant will not only fund the post-doctoral fellows, but it also will provide support for critical long-term curricular planning. This gives the college time and resources to plan for the future, while ensuring a smooth transition in offering essential courses.

“As the senior faculty members anticipate retirement, the departments need ways to think about what replacing them means,” Eisenmann said. “The grant will support both senior members as they make retirement decisions and recent graduates as they try to establish their academic careers.”

The award builds on the college’s recent experiences in recruiting up-and-coming scholars to introduce new academic perspectives. In recent years, the college has partnered with the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown University, and employed an earlier grant from the Mellon Foundation, to bring post-doctoral fellows to campus, in programs designed to develop promising faculty dedicated to undergraduate teaching as well as research.

For example, Jessica Hayes-Conroy, a post-doctoral fellow in environmental studies and women’s studies, is currently bringing her scholarship on agriculture and food activism to a course that considers feminist perspectives on food. Post-doctoral fellow in environmental studies Ninian Stein applies her research on the interplay of human culture and the environment to a course that examines historical and contemporary conflicts over natural resources. The foundation’s current support will allow Wheaton to recruit two Islamic studies scholars for the next two academic years.