MLA Awarded Million-Dollar Mellon Grant to Support Teaching at Community Colleges

The MLA is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a grant of one million dollars by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to strengthen the teaching of English at access-oriented institutions (AOIs). Between 2019 and 2021, the association will organize nine regional summer institutes for those who teach at AOIs and those who would like to make their teaching careers at them.

Over the next three years, the grant will allow 144 doctoral students and instructors at AOIs (community colleges and other colleges that prioritize access over selectivity in admissions) to participate in weeklong summer institutes in different regions of the United States, conduct pedagogical research projects the following semester, and present their work at an MLA Annual Convention. Two MLA Teaching Institutes will be held in 2019, three in 2020, and four in 2021. Graduates from the program will be awarded an MLA Certificate in Reading-Writing Pedagogy at Access-Oriented Institutions.

The MLA Teaching Institutes are part of the MLA’s efforts to develop regional professional-development programming and to promote the humanities at institutions that prioritize access. AOIs enroll many first-generation college students, Pell Grant recipients, and students of color—groups that are often discouraged from pursuing the humanities.

The first of the Mellon Foundation–funded institutes will take place in the summer of 2019 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the University of Washington, Seattle. The instructors will be Stacey Donohue, professor of English at Central Oregon Community College and the former president of the Association of Departments of English; Howard Tinberg, professor of English at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts; and Nicole Wallack, senior lecturer-in-discipline in English and comparative literature and director of the Undergraduate Writing Program at Columbia University.

The planning for the creation of the MLA Teaching Institutes was supported by a grant from the Teagle Foundation, awarded in March 2018.