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Morehouse College, Prairie View A&M University & Spelman College Receive $3M in Grants from Carnegie, Mellon and Rockefeller Foundations to Support Faculty Development

ATLANTA (Monday, Nov. 18, 2019) — Morehouse College, Prairie View A&M University and Spelman College announced today that they are the recipients of $3 million in grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Rockefeller Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of faculty on their campuses. Excellence and student success at the historically Black colleges and universities rely on pedagogically innovative, research-active and creative faculty who provide students with the tools that enable them to take responsibility for their learning. The grants allow the colleges to provide an array of faculty support structures and require the three institutions to share best practices with each other and with the broader HBCU community.

Prairie View received $1 million from Mellon. Carnegie awarded $1 million to Morehouse and $500,000 to Spelman, which also received $500,000 from Rockefeller.

“Faculty are the heart of a liberal arts education. At historically Black colleges and universities, heavy teaching loads often get in the way of professional development, time for research and/or creative production. Yet, time for these activities not only keeps faculty current in their fields but provides undergraduate research opportunities for our students,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “We are grateful for the foresight of the Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Mellon foundations in making this historic gift to Spelman, Morehouse and Prairie View. We anticipate using a portion of the funds as well to document and disseminate the innovative teaching strategies that have accounted for the academic success of Spelman students.”

Leveraging History

Over their histories, HBCUs like these three institutions have engaged high-quality faculty, who are attracted to their unique institutional missions to educate talented, hardworking minority student populations. In the last decade or so, however, despite the growing need to educate more underrepresented minorities who comprise a larger portion of the college-age population, market pressures have made it increasingly difficult for HBCUs to recruit top faculty and support their development after hire. The foundations’ critical support of these new faculty development programs leverages these institutions’ history of success preparing scholars and leaders of African descent for lives of impact and meaning.

“Our founder Andrew Carnegie was concerned about the lack of educational opportunities for African Americans. As a result, in 1900 he made a grant of $20,000 to Tuskegee University to fund the construction of its library, the first of 13 grants to the institution,” said Vartan Gregorian, Ph.D., president of Carnegie. “Throughout its history, Carnegie Corporation of New York has continued to invest in a range of organizations serving African Americans, including historically Black colleges and universities, civil rights organizations, the National Urban League since 1921, the United Negro College Fund since 1946, as well as more recent grants to support reforms in K-12 and higher education. We are pleased to help ensure the future health and welfare of the faculties of our country’s HBCUs through these latest grants to Morehouse and Spelman colleges.”

Expanding Development

The colleges’ plans to deepen and expand faculty development through the generous grants from the foundations support the institutions’ innovative and effective teaching, excellent academic outcomes, robust research, and creative activity.

Morehouse College: Morehouse will use the grant funds to support the new program, Modeling 21st Century Faculty Development at HBCUs. The program will help to make the college more competitive in attracting and retaining top talent by providing funds for start-up packages and robust opportunities for faculty growth and development. Morehouse also plans to reduce the teaching loads of existing faculty and provide support at critical stages of the faculty’s developmental life cycle. In addition, grant funds will be used to increase faculty research productivity by providing sabbaticals, seed funding, and workshops to enhance the effort.

Success of the grant program at Morehouse will be documented using metrics such as the number of faculty applying for full professorships, applications received for posted job openings, credit hours taught, faculty satisfaction, and the frequency of grant and manuscript submissions. This program will allow Morehouse to continue its tradition of excellence in the 21st century and beyond.

“On behalf of the Morehouse College community, I would like to thank the Carnegie Corporation of New York for supporting our efforts to recruit top educators to the classrooms of Morehouse,” said David A. Thomas, Ph.D., president of Morehouse. “Our mission to develop men who are academically excellent and committed to leadership and service can only be realized if the education that we offer is taught by professors who are innovators in their fields and are dedicated to helping our scholars to succeed.”

Prairie View A&M University: Over the past several years, Prairie View has made faculty development a top priority. Reducing teaching loads, creating avenues for faculty to attain tenure and opening more tenure track opportunities have been hallmarks of the institutional plan. Prairie View will use the generous funding from Mellon to continue enhancing the ranks of its faculty by identifying effective practices in faculty recruitment, advancement, and retention.

Additionally, the funds will support the establishment of a Center for Faculty Excellence that will track and monitor scholarly output and professional engagement across the spectrum of academic programs.

“The single most important indicator of a successful university is its faculty. If historically Black colleges and universities wish to compete on a global level for top students, grant funding, awards, and recognition, we must pay particular attention to how we recruit, develop and retain highly qualified faculty,” said Ruth J. Simmons, Ph.D., president of Prairie View. “I am grateful to the Mellon Foundation for providing Prairie View with the funding to do this critical work and I look forward to sharing our findings for best practices across the HBCU landscape.”

“The Mellon Foundation enthusiastically recognizes Ruth Simmons’ wise, visionary leadership with a grant to Prairie View A&M that will help ensure that the school’s top faculty are fully supported in their long-term professional development,” said Elizabeth Alexander, president of Mellon. The largest funder of the arts and humanities in higher education in the U.S., Mellon has a long-standing record of supporting excellence, diversity, and access throughout its grantmaking, which includes support of post-doctoral programs aimed at facilitating the progress of early-career faculty of color and others.

Spelman College: Academic excellence requires faculty excellence. The Carnegie and Rockefeller grants enable Spelman to provide enhanced support to its excellent faculty by investing in their continuing development as teachers and scholars. Specifically, the grant supports faculty plans to grow the curriculum in areas of emerging importance and nurtures their trajectories as leaders on campus and in their respective fields. Spelman’s strategic plan identifies faculty as “The Spelman Difference” because the college’s distinguished and dedicated faculty are the drivers of student success. These generous grants will enable Spelman to expand our support of our faculty and to share with Morehouse and Prairie View what is learned over the next five years about the strategies that work to recruit and retain excellent faculty in an era of heightened market competition.

Spelman will use the funds to support faculty success, recruitment and retention efforts through the awarding of “Distinguished Scholar/Maker” grants and course-release funding for academic departments, seed grants to develop curriculum in emerging areas like data science and analytics, research grants for global learning and accessing international archives, furthering strategic partnerships that advance faculty research and grantsmanship training for junior and mid-career faculty. The funding will allow Spelman to create a sustainable action plan for development, host off-campus writer/maker retreats for faculty to focus on scholarly and creative endeavors common to the academy, including completing books, book proposals, articles, manuscripts and screenplays. Spelman will also use the awards to gain membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity for professional development, training and mentoring through the organization, which has a proven record of success in improving productivity.

“The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to support this effort to ensure historically Black colleges and universities continue to thrive and promote equal opportunity and academic excellence to its diverse community of scholars and alumni,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “This mission is as important now as it was when John D. Rockefeller Sr. and Laura Spelman Rockefeller first committed resources to Spelman College in 1882.

Today, we honor their legacy with a grant to support the development of the next generation of women leaders at Spelman.”

Morehouse, Prairie View, and Spelman will participate in a “shared lessons convening” every other year to inform best practices and apply the benefits of the faculty support efforts.

Supporting Advancement

Increasing the number of full professors has been an ongoing focus of HBCU leadership nationwide for decades. Some of the major work happening in this area includes the training provided by The HBCU Faculty Development Network and the Faculty Career Enhancement Program, a partnership between the United Negro College Fund and Mellon. The Network empowers faculty with the tools to promote effective teaching and learning practices that will enable students to become engaged, lifelong learners, while the Career Enhancement Program helps HBCUs that are UNCF members to attract, support and re-train faculty in the social sciences and humanities through professional development and career enhancement initiatives.

The generous support from Carnegie, Mellon and Rockefeller foundations will allow Morehouse, Prairie View, and Spelman to build upon these efforts with their plans for faculty development.

About Morehouse College
Morehouse College is the nation’s largest liberal arts institution for men. Founded in 1867, the College enrolls approximately 2,200 students and is the nation’s top producer of black men who go on to receive doctorates. Morehouse is also the top producer of Rhodes Scholars among HBCUs with five Morehouse Men receiving the honor. Historically, Morehouse has conferred more bachelor’s degrees on black men than any other institution in the world. Prominent alumni include: Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General; Shelton “Spike” Lee, award-winning American filmmaker; Maynard H. Jackson, the first African American mayor of Atlanta; and Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. Morehouse currently has more than 17,000 alumni in 40 states and 14 countries. For more information, visit

About Prairie View A&M University
Designated an institution of “the first class” in the Texas Constitution, Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) is the second-oldest public institution of higher education in the state. With an established reputation for producing engineers, nurses, and educators, PVAMU offers baccalaureate degrees, master’s degrees and doctoral degree programs through nine colleges and schools. A member of The Texas A&M University System, the university is dedicated to fulfilling its land-grant mission of achieving excellence in teaching, research, and service. For more information about PVAMU, visit

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country’s leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 57 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 22 for undergraduate teaching and No. 6 for both innovation and social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 13th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit

About Carnegie Corporation of New York
Carnegie Corporation of New York was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation’s programs focus on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: education, democratic engagement, and strengthening international peace and security.

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seeks to strengthen, promote, and defend the centrality of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse, fair, and democratic societies. To this end, its core programs support exemplary and inspiring institutions of higher education and culture.

About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.