Dr. Anthony graham

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Winston-Salem State University a $600,000 grant to strengthen its programs in the humanities. WSSU is one of the few public HBCUs – and one of only five University of North Carolina System institutions – to receive a grant over the Mellon Foundation’s 50-year history. The three-year grant will provide the infrastructure to support faculty development and curriculum redesign for courses in art and visual studies, English, history and music.

“We are thrilled that the Mellon Foundation recognizes the incredible work being done here at WSSU and the potential for us to deliver transformative change,” said WSSU Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson. “We are honored to be among the few schools to receive a significant award from an organization as prestigious as the Mellon Foundation.”

Over the next three years, WSSU faculty will restructure at least 54 humanities courses – from introductory courses to the senior capstone course – to support student success.

“Our strategic plan calls for a high-touch approach to bridge the gaps between students and their abilities to engage their education,” said Anthony Graham, provost and chief academic officer. “This grant will provide us with the resources to introduce these equitable practices throughout our humanities offerings. Research has found that this high-impact approach fosters student success and ensures that students obtain the essential skills they need to thrive in an ever-changing economy.”

The redesigned curriculum will focus on learning outcomes and introduce high-impact practices such as undergraduate scholarship, internships and creative endeavors. Graham said WSSU will serve as a model for other minority-serving institutions, with faculty sharing what they’ve learned through presentations and publications.

He said the redesign also aims to: develop strong and relevant programs that attract faculty who are scholars in their fields; increase the number of WSSU students who major in humanities; develop a sustainable faculty leadership structure that supports a “teacher-scholar model” that brings curiosity and discovery into the classroom; and create support structures to increase the number of students who pursue graduate studies in the humanities.

According to the proposal, three cross-disciplinary faculty learning communities will be created to redesign courses based on established best practices. The project will be overseen by a leadership team consisting of administrators from the provost’s office, the Center for Innovative and Transformative Instruction, CASBE dean’s office, Institutional Assessment and Research, and a faculty member in humanities.

The curriculum redesign will begin in the summer with the first of three faculty institutes and nine faculty members. Faculty will receive a stipend for participating in the institutes. According to the proposal, faculty teaching foundational humanities courses in philosophy, world languages and African American culture also will be engaged as part of the curriculum redesign.

WSSU has had recent success instituting curriculum reform in existing courses.