Students sit at lab table
Trinity’s Arts and Humanities Undergraduate Research Gets Major Boost
Grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will enhance work of University’s Mellon Initiative

San Antonio – Trinity University was awarded an $800,000 grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support initiatives aimed at improving access to and expanding opportunities for undergraduate research in the arts and humanities. “This award will strengthen our culture of undergraduate research and mentorship in the arts and humanities, an area where Trinity is quickly becoming a national leader,” said Deneese Jones, vice president for Academic Affairs.

The grant will assist Trinity’s plan to integrate undergraduate research in the arts and humanities more fully into its curriculum and at earlier stages in students’ academic careers.  The program funding will also allow the University to expand the number and diversity of students participating in these high-impact experiences in the classroom and in the community.

Previous Mellon Foundation funding allowed the University to take initial steps to develop undergraduate research in the arts and humanities and create the Trinity Mellon Initiative. “The Mellon Initiative has transformed the arts and humanities at Trinity,” said Chad Spigel, associate professor and director for the Mellon Initiative for Undergraduate Research in the Arts and Humanities. With this new grant, an expansion of the Mellon Initiative at Trinity will help the University increase access for underrepresented students who may not be aware of the opportunities and benefits of such research. “Our goal is to create and sustain an inclusive and diverse culture of research in the arts and humanities at Trinity,” Spigel said.

Mellon Initiative objectives:

  • Integrate arts and humanities research preparation more fully into the curriculum, embed high-impact opportunities for students taking lower-division courses.
  • Extend support for undergraduate research and creative activities into the academic school year by offering both faculty grants to create and run arts and humanities labs and mini-grants for student-directed research projects.
  • Expand the regional focus of faculty and student research activity by encouraging additional projects that take students out into the local community and engage with the South Central Texas region.
  • Increase the number of research opportunities available overall, including expanding the number of Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) to meet growing demand.
  • Provide faculty development to help achieve these goals, host regular workshops to help faculty create classroom, lab, and research environments that address the challenges faced by underrepresented students.

The objectives of Trinity’s enhanced Mellon Initiative will work towards informing, preparing, and providing opportunities for all Trinity students to participate in undergraduate research in the arts and humanities. Trinity intends to excel in providing guided undergraduate research throughout the summer and the academic year, building on its successful summer STEM undergraduate research program, Entrepreneurship’s Student + Startups, and the Arts, Letters, and Enterprise program.

Trinity’s location in the nation’s seventh largest city provides real-world learning opportunities for students interested in the arts and humanities. The University has a longstanding goal of increasing its engagements with the San Antonio community through both research and service. Expanding the regional focus of faculty and student research activity allows students to participate in projects that link Trinity with the local community.

Funded by the Mellon Initiative, Andrea Acevedo '18 created a virtual reality experience that brought awareness to immigration detention.

Previous student-faculty research partnerships have investigated questions of enduring historical and global significance, including common themes in literature along the U.S.-Mexico border, perceptions of government policy in modern-day Vietnam, how peer tutors contribute to college student learning, and the history of the San Antonio Symphony. Mellon-funded research opportunities have given students a chance to develop new skills by conducting archival research, reexamining ancient and modern texts, writing contributions to appear in academic populations, and conducting interviews in the field.

“Trinity University is prepared to invest its resources in this multi-year endeavor and are pleased to partner once again with the Mellon Foundation to achieve goals shared by the Foundation and the University to strengthen the contributions of the humanities and arts for the success of coming generations,” said Danny Anderson, Trinity president. The Mellon Foundation funding will facilitate the preparation of graduates capable of pioneering new insights in the arts and humanities.

Sharon Jones Schweitzer '75 helps tell Trinity's story as a contributor to the University communications team.

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