The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a more than $2 million grant to The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College (EPCC) to establish The Humanities Collaborative. UTEP will receive nearly $1.4 million and EPCC will receive $651,000 in support of the program.
The goals of this three-year project are to expand collaboration in the humanities between the two institutions and to invigorate humanities coursework and student research at both institutions through paid internships, community involvement, interdisciplinary mentored research and other high-impact experiences that will lead to increased undergraduate and graduate majors in humanities disciplines such as English, history, languages and philosophy.
UTEP President Diana Natalicio said the Mellon Foundation’s generous investment in this project validates the strong partnership between the two institutions and their abilities to build smooth pathways for students who start at EPCC and complete their baccalaureate degrees at UTEP.
“What is especially exciting is that these funds will be dedicated to encouraging the aspirations of students with a passion for pursuing graduate study and careers in the humanities, an area where such grant support is extremely rare,” President Natalicio said. “This program will surely offer life-changing options for its student participants. I join them and their faculty mentors in thanking the Mellon Foundation for its vision in creating this program and for the extraordinary opportunities it offers for Humanities programs at both EPCC and UTEP.”
EPCC President William Serrata also is proud to expand the institution’s ongoing partnership with UTEP.
“Together our institutions are making impressive strides to increase higher education attainment in our region,” President Serrata said. “The generous grant received from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will further strengthen these ties, increase collaboration between UTEP and EPCC faculty and students, create clearer pathways for EPCC students to transfer to UTEP and raise the profile of the humanities in our border community.”
“We are pleased to support the partnership between El Paso Community College and The University of Texas at El Paso,” said Mellon Foundation Executive Vice President Mariët Westermann. “Since 2014, the Mellon Foundation has made 12 grants for humanities partnerships between community colleges and research universities. Building a healthy, sustainable pipeline to help students from community colleges earn four-year baccalaureate degrees is an investment in the future of humanities scholarship, higher education, and American democracy.”
Brian Yothers, Ph.D., a UTEP professor of English and the program’s principal investigator at UTEP, said the study of humanities contributes to professional success in many varied fields such as law, business and careers that benefit from enhanced abilities to communicate clearly and evaluate critically.
“We’re excited about this on many levels,” Yothers said. “We want more students to understand the range of exciting options for inquiry in the humanities and to develop research and writing skills specific to the humanities, which also happen to be skills in which many employers are interested. The possibilities for connections within the humanities and between the humanities and other disciplines, particularly the arts, are endless.”
Margie Nelson Rodriguez and Brian Kirby, associate professors of English, are co-PIs who will lead on the EPCC side.
“EPCC students will benefit from this collaboration because humanities transfer pathways between EPCC and UTEP will be strengthened, and students will be provided paid internship and research opportunities,” Nelson Rodriguez said. “This will collectively result in organized and purposeful opportunities to mentor EPCC and UTEP humanities student majors.”
Collaborative leaders will use much of the spring 2018 semester to promote the program among UTEP and EPCC students, and select faculty fellows from both institutions who will mentor the first cohort of student fellows. The program will launch officially on May 15, 2018.