Case Western Reserve University awarded $2 million Mellon Foundation grant to promote leadership development and diversity in humanities ranks

Adelbert Hall on a winter day.

With a $2,028,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Case Western Reserve University will establish a training program for humanities faculty and graduate students that promotes equity and diversity in academic leadership.

The four-year award will fund a new Humanities in Leadership Learning Series (HILLS) Program at Case Western Reserve that will enroll 24 arts and humanities faculty members and postdoctoral fellows—and up to 24 more arts and humanities graduate students—in a curriculum offering significant administrative experiences and instruction.

HILLS will aim to strengthen representation of arts and humanities faculty from groups that are underrepresented within higher education leadership positions—and, ultimately, offer a replicable model for other institutions of higher learning.

The Mellon Foundation grant and HILLS program are a response to the dearth of senior administrators from arts and humanities backgrounds at research universities: According to the American Council on Education (ACE), only 3.6% of presidents at doctoral degree-granting institutions hold PhDs in the arts or humanities, while the Council of Independent Colleges reports that only 8.7% of provosts at such institutions have doctoral training in those fields.

What’s more, fewer than one in five presidents at Association of American Universities (AAU)-member institutions are female, and 88% of private nonprofit degree-granting university presidents are white, according to the ACE.

Efforts to promote inclusion and diversity of background and thought in academic leadership are essential to the future of higher education, said Ben Vinson III, provost and executive vice president of Case Western Reserve.

“By supporting leadership development in the humanities ranks, with a particular focus on attracting those from underrepresented backgrounds, we will enable our institutions of higher education to embrace diversity as they train the next generation of leaders to address the evolving opportunities and challenges within academia,” said Vinson, an accomplished historian of Latin America, who will lead HILLS as the grant’s co-principal investigator.

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