2000

President's Report

It has not been my practice to focus the annual President’s Report on levels of grantmaking or financial matters. The substance of what the Foundation does is what matters, and this year I will, once again, emphasize programmatic developments and directions. Last year was a most unusual year, however, and current and prospective programmatic thinking can only be understood in the context of the higher levels of grantmaking made possible by the favorable financial returns enjoyed recently by this Foundation (as well as by many other foundations, colleges, universities, and not-for-profit organizations).

Applying the usual pay-out rate (and making other assumptions about expenses and taxes), we estimate that the Foundation’s grantmaking requirement rose from just under $160 million in 1999 to nearly $210 million in 2000—an unprecedented one-year increment of approximately $50 million. It was against this backdrop that the Trustees held their annual Retreat in September of 2000. 

Grantmaking Philosophy: Deeper or Broader?

The discussions that began at the September Retreat are ongoing, and it would be wrong to suggest that irrevocable decisions have been made.  The Trustees and staff did, however, arrive at one broad conclusion. In the words of the minutes of the Retreat discussion: 

At the conclusion of the Retreat, following the Trustees’ review of current program areas and plans, the Trustees stated that there was much important work to be done in the Foundation’s traditional areas of support and that programs in these areas should be deepened. There was agreement that, in the short run at least, highest priority in the allocation of scarce senior staff time should go to the development of new initiatives in areas such as the humanities and scholarly communications. (Note 1)

This judgment is consistent with the Foundation’s longstanding view that grantmaking should be confined to a relatively small number of areas in order to permit focused attention, to leverage existing staff capabilities, and to have as much impact as possible on key institutions and defining issues. As I will indicate below, there appear to be excellent opportunities in the areas in which the Foundation has been working for some time, specifically: higher education and scholarship (especially in the humanities), with emphasis placed on both liberal arts colleges and research universities; the extension of opportunities for talented minority students and faculty members; libraries and scholarly communication, including research in information technology and its manifold applications in creating digital resources; art museums and art conservation, with new attention paid to the science of conservation; the performing arts; population (now including refugee studies); and conservation and the environment.  This is, we believe, a rich and rewarding set of territories in which to make grants and to pursue research. Thus, we believe it makes sense to continue to pursue a "deeper" rather than a "broader" approach to grantmaking—doing more in the areas we know and in which we have competence. 

This approach has the further advantage of allowing the Foundation’s staff to remain small enough that individuals can know each other well and work effectively across program categories. Grantees regularly express appreciation for the relatively straightforward way in which the Foundation operates, and we agree that there is a great deal to be said for avoiding the need for intermediate levels of oversight and more bureaucracy. 

As always, there will be shifts in emphasis within program areas, and one of the objectives of these annual reports is to alert grantees to prospective changes in direction. At the same time we do not anticipate any radical change in the mix of grants made. In many instances, we will seek to provide the same kinds of direct support that we have provided in the past (examples include support of doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships, curatorships, discretionary funds for college presidents, some "tools and text" projects, research in ecology and population/forced migration, and support for new works in the performing arts). Grants will also be made for planning purposes or to meet one-time needs (for example, help in finishing work on editing texts or putting in place a new program of study). Research in fields such as higher education will also continue to be supported, and we recognize that many such grants are in their nature risky as it is hard to know whether the researcher will or will not find interesting results. Especially in recent years, we have made some larger appropriations in support of particularly promising projects. Laurance Rockefeller once referred to this strategy as "growing a few tall trees."   

The Foundation also expects to maintain a long time-horizon and to stay with programs long enough to have an impact (the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship program is a good example); we have tried to avoid a "stop-and-start" mentality. At the same time, we review programs periodically to decide when an initiative should be concluded. In addition, the Foundation always reserves some funds for flexible deployment and new probes so that it can pursue new opportunities when they arise.   

One evolving pattern is worth highlighting. Fostering collaborations has clearly become increasingly important over time. At recent meetings with college and university presidents, many suggested that institutions need to work together in areas such as the application of information technology to teaching and learning and the archiving of scholarly materials in the arts and humanities.  Yet it is very difficult for colleges or universities to form such collaborations on their own: the individual institutions are often too competitive; no one institution is able or willing to invest the resources needed to give definition to the effort; and schools are often unable, on their own, to obtain the needed venture capital. Several presidents said explicitly that they thought that the Foundation had an especially important role to play in: (a) bringing appropriate groups of institutions "to the table;" (b) providing, in especially promising situations, upfront financing (venture capital) that otherwise might be sought through for-profit mechanisms; and (c) contributing leadership (or some mechanism for stimulating and organizing the thinking of others) in considering problems that affect many of the institutions that we care about—policies concerning intellectual property rights and the development of new applications of information technology are two frequently mentioned examples. 

As one university president put it, what is most needed is "dollars-plus" grantmaking, where the "plus" is meant to represent at least a modest organizational or intellectual contribution. This formulation presents a challenge that we are willing to accept. At the same time, we are well aware that great care has to be taken in building effective partnerships. The only kinds of initiatives and collaborations that are likely to succeed are those in which there is a widely felt sense of shared ownership. Leadership needs to be low-key and highly collegial. In developing and modifying program ideas, and in evaluating existing programs, Foundation staff will continue to consult closely with leading thinkers and practitioners in particular fields. 

Another general topic discussed at the Trustee Retreat was: How international should Mellon be in its grantmaking? National boundaries mean less and less in the fields in which we work.  While we expect that the great majority of our grants will continue to go to US organizations, the Trustees and staff believe that we should be more willing than in the past to make grants to foreign organizations when that is the best way to advance a programmatic objective. One important lesson from the experience to date with the Dunhuang art-imaging project (discussed later in this report) is that, because of its independence and its not-for-profit status, the Foundation can sometimes be more effective in achieving international collaborations than can entities with a governmental "taint." In our recent experience, promoting international collaboration in scholarship and the arts has evoked very positive responses.  

In concluding this brief discussion of the Foundation’s philosophy of grantmaking, and especially in restating our intention to do more within our traditional fields of activity, I should make three other points. First, there has been, and will continue to be, a great deal of substantive change in the activities that we support within each of the broad fields of interest to the Foundation. Second, while there is, we believe, great opportunity to do more within these established fields, we continue to think about other kinds of opportunities as well. Finally, the financial markets can "take" as well as "give," and it would be foolish to assume that any foundation will continue to enjoy the kinds of returns that have been realized over the last two years—indeed, asset values could of course decline. So, it will be important to proceed steadily and even cautiously in moving from one level of appropriations to another.  We do not want to create a series of funding "cliffs" for ourselves or for our grantees. 

Appropriations in 2000 

The Foundation’s initial projection of appropriations for calendar (and fiscal) year 2000 was $175 million—already a substantial increase over the $156 million appropriated in 1999 and the $144 million appropriated in 1998. As it became clear in the course of the year that investment performance made it possible to raise this target, additional commitments were made; by the time of the September Retreat, nearly $135 million had been appropriated. A further round of increases in budgets was approved at that time and approximately $85 million was appropriated in December 2000— by far the largest amount ever approved at any Board meeting.  

Thus, total appropriations for 2000 were $220 million. This total is somewhat deceiving, however, in that it includes roughly $25 to $30 million of substantial one-time appropriations designed to provide core support to leading institutions in fields of special interest to the Foundation and to institutions on which the Foundation relies to carry out some of its programs.  The latter category includes the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF), and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Special grants were also made to the Population Council, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the International Rescue Committee, Columbia University, Tufts University; to the Trust for Public Land, the Organization for Tropical Studies; to the Appalachian College Association; and to Opera America, the Alliance of Resident Theatres, the American Music Center, and the Marlboro School of Music; to the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works; to the Foundation Center; and to CERGE-EI. None of these organizations had a base of financial assets that allowed it to benefit appreciably from the extraordinary returns offered by financial markets in recent years, and yet each continues to play a very important role in its field and deserves, we believe, core support. (Note 2)

As we now look ahead to 2001, we are projecting appropriations of $210 million, or about $35 million more than the initial projection for 2000. A recent review of plans submitted by program officers indicates no lack of worthy projects. In fact, we have had to moderate proposed increases in commitments in some areas because of other strong claims on the Foundation’s resources. Any concerns that we might have felt last September about our ability to respond effectively to the opportunities offered by larger resources while continuing to focus on our established fields of activity, have been addressed. It is hard to imagine how I could ever have harbored any doubts about the creativity of my colleagues when faced with expanded opportunities.  The staffing changes described in last year’s report have increased markedly the grantmaking capacity of the Foundation—and just at the right time. Fortunately, we are much better positioned today to pursue an expanded ("deeper") strategy than we were even a year or two ago. New and relatively new colleagues such as Danielle Carr, Lydia English, Ira Fuchs, Krista House, Suzanne Lodato, Joe Meisel, and Don Waters have already made a tremendous difference.

Recent Programmatic Developments: Higher Education

Roughly three-fifths of the Foundation’s total appropriations are made to institutions in the field of higher education. This very large "slice of the pie" includes grants made not only to research universities and liberal arts colleges in this country, but also to their counterparts in countries such as South Africa. In addition, we group under this heading all of the Foundation’s initiatives intended to enhance opportunities for minority students and faculty members, a number of major projects in scholarly communication and in libraries, and research in higher education. A dominant crosscutting emphasis is support of the arts and humanities, and we plan to increase our already considerable activities in these core areas.   

Doctoral Education in the Humanities

Over the last decade the Foundation has invested approximately $80 million in a long-term effort to improve the quality and effectiveness of graduate education in selected departments of the humanities and social sciences at ten universities.  The program has been in place in 52 departments and programs and, from its beginning, has sought to encourage departments to reassess their curricula, examinations, advising, timetables, and dissertation requirements so as to facilitate timely degree completion and reduce attrition while maintaining or increasing the quality of doctoral training they provided. A major objective has been to encourage departmental accountability for the graduate students whom they admit. It was understood from the start that the program would have a ten-year life, and this was its last year. 

Considerable efforts have been made to cushion the withdrawal of support, on which these 52 departments and their universities have become very dependent. Between 1995 and 1998, the Foundation made outright grants of $1 million to each of the ten universities and then granted an additional $1 million per institution to be matched on a three-to-one basis in order to allow the participating institutions to make permanent the most important features of the Mellon graduate education program. More recently, large appropriations have been made to Columbia and Chicago to assist these universities with their ongoing efforts to strengthen the financial base of their important but underfunded doctoral programs. Selective grants of this kind may continue to be made. 

Extensive data on the workings of this ambitious program and its outcomes have been collected since its inception and will continue to be collected and analyzed until the last cohorts are presumed to have finished their studies.  We expect in time to publish a full report of what has been learned from this unprecedented effort to encourage change and to assess the effects—including both successes and disappointments—as recorded in regular reports from the participating institutions and captured in a massive longitudinal database of information about graduate students participating in the program. 

At the same time that we are concluding this very large program of institutional grants, we are continuing our investment in the complementary program of portable fellowships for first-year students that is designed to attract some of the best undergraduates in the country to the study of the humanities. In addition to renewing our support for The Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships in Humanistic Studies, we have decided to increase the stipends, so that these will remain among the most prestigious fellowships available to first-year students. 

The Foundation is also contemplating a new program that would provide archival training for doctoral students in all fields of the humanities. The increasing use of archival materials by literary scholars, art historians, and musicologists, as well as historians, suggests that doctoral students in these fields should be encouraged to employ archival sources and methods in their dissertation work. The aim would be to promote the use of these kinds of sources among the rising generation of scholars. Other new ideas will no doubt emerge. The main message is simply that the Foundation is in no way leaving the field of graduate education in the humanities. (Note 3)

Notwithstanding these ongoing, new, and in some instances expanding programs of support for graduate education, the conclusion of the ten-university graduate education initiative opens new "programmatic space" for other forms of support of the humanities (and of the arts and sciences more generally) in both research universities and liberal arts colleges. 

Postdoctoral Fellowships

While the Foundation has a long history of making grants for postdoctoral fellowships, in the recent past such support has been available only to liberal arts colleges and to those research universities not included in the ten-university program of institutional support (because we did not want to concentrate the Foundation’s support on too few research universities). In 2000, staff began inviting some of these ten institutions to join the broader competition for postdoctoral fellowships, and awards were made to Columbia University, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago. Columbia and Cornell will concentrate these fellowships in particular areas (art history and American studies, respectively), while the University of Chicago’s program will involve an internal competition open to all departments and degree-granting programs in the humanities, as well as to selected departments and programs in the social sciences (anthropology, history, human development, political science, sociology, and the Committee on Social Thought). We anticipate that more grants of this kind will be made in 2001 and subsequent years. (Note 4)  The postdoctoral fellowships the Foundation supports differ somewhat from the model familiar in the biological and physical sciences. Not only are they closely tailored to meet institutional needs, they are also intended to give fellows the chance to teach first-rate undergraduates along with pursuing their own research.

In addition, a new program of "Special Collection Fellowships" is aimed at enabling recent PhDs to work intensively in research libraries in collections related to their scholarly interests while also performing useful bibliographic work for libraries and possibly collaborating in projects that would provide broad scholarly access to special collections through electronic media. The program would also encourage academics to engage in important scholarly activities that are no longer given much attention, such as the editing of correspondence and the production of scholarly editions of texts. A program of this kind might also make a modest contribution to bridging the divide that often exists between academics and librarians. 

Faculty Support

Even more significant than increased funding for postdoctoral fellowships is the marked increase in the emphasis the Foundation is now giving to faculty support. The time is right, we believe, to make new and larger investments in a variety of programs designed to aid faculty at both research universities and liberal arts colleges. This is one of the most important themes to emerge from the September Retreat. 

It is not that we are starting from ground zero: 

• Over the last five years, the Foundation has funded a range of fellowships for individual scholars at various stages in their careers. Most have been connected in one way or another to institutes for advanced study (e.g., the National Humanities Center and the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences) and independent research libraries (e.g., the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Huntington). (Note 5)

• One of the Foundation’s newer ventures along these lines is the Burkhardt Fellowships, which are overseen by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and aimed specifically at encouraging research that is wide-ranging, venturesome, and entails a long time commitment. For recently tenured professors in the humanities and allied social sciences, these fellowships provide both a stipend and the chance to spend a year at one of a limited number of institutes for advanced study. It is hoped that the fellows will benefit from having uninterrupted time and opportunities for vigorous scholarly exchange. Also responding to the need of scholars for longer-term but portable research support, the Foundation has recently joined the American Philosophical Society in establishing a fellowship program. 

• Considerable support has also been provided to faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows through the Sawyer Seminars, which were inaugurated in 1994 as a way of providing opportunities for scholars in a wide variety of fields to address questions of contemporary relevance from comparative and historical perspectives. The seminars are held for a limited period of time, most typically one year, and are independent of the curriculum. To date, 59 seminars have been held at 24 institutions. 

• A number of liberal arts colleges, working both in small teams and collaboratively, have received planning grants to consider the best ways for small institutions to provide career enhancements over the course of a faculty member’s professional life span and on into retirement. Faculty support has also been provided to Appalachian colleges (administered through the Appalachian College Association) and to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

We expect to continue all of these programs (Note 6) and, in addition, to initiate several new ones. The standards of scholarly accomplishment necessary for achieving tenure at both research universities and top-tier liberal arts colleges are increasingly rigorous, and yet the availability of research support for even the most promising junior faculty members in the humanities remains very uneven.  The ACLS will take responsibility for administering the first of these new initiatives, which will provide enhanced opportunities for junior faculty. Increasing availability of research support for junior faculty members in the humanities and related social sciences has been identified as a high priority by college and university presidents and provosts during recent discussions with Foundation staff, and the ACLS received a grant of $2.3 million last December to award 66 new semester-long research fellowships in three annual competitions. 

Five other new initiatives are under active consideration. Because of the importance of this package of proposals, Harriet Zuckerman and Pat McPherson intend to devote the special essay in next year’s annual report to a fuller discussion of these programs, several of which we expect to have underway by then. Meanwhile, I will list them so that readers of the report will be aware of the direction of our thinking. 

1. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Awards. The Foundation proposes to create a new set of awards for outstanding senior faculty who are actively influencing their fields and who are also at stages in their careers where much of their best work still lies ahead of them (we hope!). These are envisioned as three-year awards that will be sufficiently generous to allow the recipients to gain not only additional time and support for their own scholarship but also the opportunity to invite colleagues from other colleges and universities to work with them. The chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Hanna Holborn Gray, President Emeritus of the University of Chicago, has agreed to chair a selection committee that will be asked to select up to five winners each year from pools of candidates nominated by leading scholars. This flagship program is intended to have high visibility and to underscore the Foundation’s strong commitment to supporting the most compelling ideas and the ablest people in the humanities. 

2. New Directions Fellowships. Both scholars and administrators share the view that multi-disciplinary research holds enormous promise. It is possible that the Foundation might be able to foster such research at the highest standard of quality by instituting a series of fellowships for pre-tenure or recently tenured humanists which would allow them to acquire systematic training outside their own disciplines. Such a program would permit scholars to work on the problems that interest them most and to do so at an appropriate level of sophistication. 

3. Emeritus Fellowships at Research Universities. With the lifting of mandatory retirement at age 65, the transition of scholars from teaching and administrative duties to emeritus status has become problematic, especially at the research universities and especially because of the large number of appointments these institutions made in the 1960s. The best evidence in hand (from the Foundation-supported study of more than 100 institutions) indicates that earlier studies underestimated the numbers of faculty members, especially in private research universities, who elect to continue teaching past 65 years of age. (Note 7)  Although the problems that the "uncapping" of retirement presents cut across all disciplines and are far too large for the Foundation to contemplate trying to resolve, a program of Emeritus Fellowships for senior scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences would enable the best to continue research and writing while also providing an incentive to give up permanent posts. 

4. Anticipating Retirements at Liberal Arts Colleges. The situation is quite different at leading liberal arts colleges. Many expect to experience a large number of faculty retirements in the next five to ten years, and the Foundation is interested in helping these colleges take advantage of this situation, rather than be weakened by it. We expect to provide wasting endowment grants to selected colleges to enable them to make new appointments in advance of retirements. 

5. Strategic Grants for Faculty Support. At both research universities and liberal arts colleges there is concern that increased competition for faculty who provide critically important leadership for their departments, the institution as a whole, and their fields of study, may make it problematic for some institutions to maintain their high academic standards and intellectual "edge." Accordingly, we may invite some colleges and universities that are of unquestioned quality but particularly hard-pressed financially (often because they had relatively small endowments when financial markets began to generate larger and larger returns) to submit proposals for one-time targeted grants intended to help them recruit and retain faculty leaders at a time when they may be subject to increased raiding by more affluent competitors. Also, we would like to ensure that excellent institutions have opportunities to do new things when promising ideas are identified. In keeping with this Foundation’s emphasis on the humanities, we are especially concerned that faculty strength in these fields not be eroded—and that opportunities to strengthen programs not be limited to the most well-endowed institutions. 

Minority Scholars and Faculty at HBCUs

The Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program is the centerpiece of the Foundation’s efforts to increase the number of highly qualified minority candidates enrolled in PhD programs in core fields within the arts and sciences and to increase the diversity of faculties at colleges and universities throughout the country. (Note 8)  In June 2000, the Trustees renewed their support of this program by appropriating $11 million to extend it for another six years. Since its inception in 1988, the Foundation has appropriated over $36 million for the operation of MMUF at 32 institutions (16 colleges and 16 universities) and at a consortium of private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) through a program overseen by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). MMUF is entering its 12th year, and the cumulative progress is visible: 40 fellows have received the PhD with an additional 20 scheduled to receive their doctoral degree within a year. There are currently 450 students working in various stages of progress toward the PhD in Foundation-supported fields. An additional 340 state that they intend to pursue graduate study in the near future. 

Over the last two years Foundation staff, under the leadership of Lydia English, have put in place a number of new programs designed to build on the momentum that has been established by addressing the needs of MMUF scholars beyond their admission to graduate school. In partnership with the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the Foundation funds Predoctoral Research grants, which help to pay for books, travel, equipment and other incidental research expenses; the SSRC also organizes an Annual Summer Conference that has been highly successful in fostering intellectual interactions and developing a community spirit ("we are all in this together"). In December 1999, the Foundation’s Trustees approved programs of Dissertation Completion Grants and Travel and Research Grants to be administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF). 

Providing support for tenure-track faculty is a logical next step in pursuing the longer-term objective of increasing the diversity of tenured faculty members at colleges and universities throughout the country. Accordingly, a further appropriation of $2.6 million was made to WWNFF in March 2000 to establish a competitive grant program for tenure-track junior faculty members from underrepresented groups at the liberal arts colleges and research universities with which the Foundation traditionally works; in addition, all former Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellows will be eligible wherever they are teaching. The objective is to give junior faculty members adequate time and support to develop research programs that will qualify them for tenure. All fellows will be paired with a senior faculty mentor, and WWNFF will convene a yearly meeting of fellows and mentors. This programmatic structure should give young faculty access to a wide network of scholars in their fields and increase the chances that they will earn tenure. (Note 9) 

Even more recently, in December 2000, the Trustees approved a redesigned Faculty Career Enhancement Program intended to increase the number of doctorate-holding faculty members at four year institutions that are members of the UNCF, and to provide additional teaching and learning opportunities for faculty members at these institutions. Previous efforts (dating back to 1989) to serve the same basic objective had disappointing results. Though faculty at these institutions were highly committed to academic careers, a variety of circumstances—length of time away from academic study, heavy teaching loads, limited availability of institutional support for research and sabbaticals, family obligations, and other barriers —impeded their progress toward the degree. 

Following careful review, a major restructuring of the program has now been accomplished. Expectations concerning the number of faculty who will be able to resume full-time doctoral study have been modified to be more realistic. In addition, a broader array of opportunities to engage in scholarly work at their home institutions will be made available to faculty.  These will include summer workshops and short-term visits to research institutes in this country and abroad. This uneven history is a useful reminder that programs must be carefully monitored and revised when necessary to achieve what continue to be important objectives. 

Cost-Effective Uses of Technology in Teaching (CEUTT)

Since 1996 the Foundation has made 22 grants designed to test the ability of new information technologies to enhance teaching in cost-effective ways. In 2001, we expect to make the final grants under this program: these are "case study" in nature, and focus on specific initiatives at particular colleges and universities. A major transition is underway to a new program with broader scope and aims. The intention is to provide support for rigorous studies of applications of instructional technology that will include online education and distance learning. Such studies are especially timely since the higher education sector is now witnessing both an explosion in Web-based teaching and the emergence of e-learning as a possible revenue stream. In this context, it seems important to sponsor research on a wider variety of issues that have economic, technical, legal, and policy dimensions, and not to limit ourselves so narrowly to examining cost-effectiveness. 

At the same time, we hope to encourage the publication of a book that will bring together the lessons learned from earlier case studies that have progressed far enough to permit at least tentative conclusions to be reached. Saul Fisher is the program officer at the Foundation primarily responsible for this area of activity.

Scholarly Communication in a Digital Age

Another recurring theme of the September Retreat is that the Foundation may be able to make a major contribution in a number of the fields in which it has a longstanding interest by shaping the ways in which digital technologies are used.  The Foundation’s combination of extensive interactions with libraries and their applications of information technology, a rewarding and highly instructive experience with JSTOR, and relatively recent staffing developments (especially the addition to our staff of Ira Fuchs, Donald Waters, and the legal tandem of Michele Warman and Gretchen Wagner) puts the Foundation in a strong position to stimulate both the institutional collaborations and the kinds of new thinking that grantees appear to be seeking.  The Foundation’s 1999 Annual Report contains a detailed description of many of the Foundation’s activities that relate to information technology, and the text of the Romanes Lecture I gave at Oxford last October provides my sense of the broader intellectual and commercial context within which these fast-moving developments need to be understood. In what follows, I will not repeat those earlier presentations but rather highlight more recent developments that may be of particular interest to grantees and other readers of this report. (Note 10)

JSTOR

JSTOR is the best known of the Foundation-sponsored projects in this broad area, and we continue to follow its progress closely even though it has been a free-standing not-for-profit organization since 1995. At last count, nearly 1,000 institutions in more than 40 countries (Note 11) have elected to participate in JSTOR and have licensed one or more components of the JSTOR database (which now contains not only the original Art & Sciences I Collection of 117 journals but also the General Science and Ecology & Botany Collections). Nearly 3.2 million articles were printed from the database in the calendar year 2000. Usage continues to expand at an exponential rate, there is evidence that libraries are beginning to realize significant economies (especially in savings on stack space) from participating in JSTOR, and the annual access fees paid by participating institutions are now sufficient to make JSTOR self-sustaining. Still, there is, as always, much more to accomplish. 

As JSTOR’s appeal continues to grow, the importance of adding more disciplines in the arts and sciences becomes increasingly important and efforts are now underway to add a language and literature collection, a second major Arts & Sciences Collection, and a music collection, to name a few examples. Lack of coverage of the leading journals in art history is particularly noticeable and has been troubling to the Foundation, not only because the field is central to the humanities but also because works of art (and therefore the secondary publishing pertaining to them) play such an important role in interdisciplinary studies. Anthropologists, archaeologists, classicists, historians, political scientists, literary scholars, sociologists, and others regard works of art as essential evidence for understanding societies and cultures. As high-quality digital representations of works of art become available through projects such as "ArtSTOR" (described in the next section of this report), the creation of electronic and hypertext links between scholarly articles in art history and the digital images of the subject works of art will become extremely valuable to scholars and students. However, scholars will fully realize the potential of the art history literature in their use of digitized images only if that literature is itself represented digitally. It is therefore vital that JSTOR take steps to add an art history cluster to its database, and in 2000 the Foundation appropriated $2.8 million of funding for this purpose. 

Quite apart from the high cost of digitizing this image-rich literature, the single largest challenge to significant advances in the application of technology for the scholarly study and use of art images has been the complexity of the intellectual property rights associated with digitized images. Uncertainty about the likely consequences has led some institutions to opt for "solutions" that severely limit scholarly access either by offering only thumbnail sized or low-resolution images or by restricting distribution to audiences operating behind network "firewalls." Alleviating these concerns, which have broad ramifications, would be a signal accomplishment. Accordingly, the Foundation and JSTOR have been working closely with a leading intellectual property rights law firm in New York, and we have been greatly encouraged to learn that the legal risks of digitizing images can be reduced and made manageable. (Note 12)

ArtSTOR

As explained in detail in the 1999 Annual Report, the Foundation has been working on ways in which it might encourage the establishment of ArtSTOR, an electronic archive dedicated to producing, assembling, and distributing images of works of art and related scholarly materials. Considerable progress has been made. Work has proceeded apace in digitizing the design collection at MoMA, the quality of the images is superb, and development of the software providing exceptional levels of search capacity has surpassed projections. 

The second major pilot project, the digitization of the cave art at Dunhuang, on the edge of the Gobi desert in Western China, has also proceeded on schedule—amazingly so! Our colleague, Don Waters, provided the Trustees with this succinct background statement in recommending a grant to the Guimet Museum in Paris to digitize its important holdings of materials related to the cave grottos at Dunhuang: 

Over the last year, an extraordinary collaboration, supported by formal agreements between the Foundation and the Dunhuang Research Academy (DRA), Northwestern University, the British Library, Oxford University, [and] the Guimet Museum has tested the feasibility of re-connecting, in an easily searchable scholarly database of digitized images, the cave art in Dunhuang, China and related art works, manuscripts, silk banners, and other objects currently housed in museums and libraries around the world. In July 2000, Foundation staff demonstrated a prototype of the archive at the Centennial Celebration of the Discovery of the Library Cave in Dunhuang, China. The demonstration was received with much enthusiasm and was accompanied by the signing of a final agreement between the Foundation and the DRA to continue the digitization of the cave art in Dunhuang.  This agreement is key to the further development of the online database, which is to be known as the Mellon International Dunhuang Archive (MIDA). 

Speaking more personally, I can report that presenting the prototype of the MIDA database, signing the formal agreement on which so many people in this country and in China had worked for so long, and observing the worldwide interest in Dunhuang studies was an experience that I will long remember. Our Chinese hosts and collaborators were unfailingly courteous and helpful, and we look forward to continuing to work with them. Following the Centennial Celebration, the Northwestern team, led by Professor Sarah Fraser and Harlan Wallach, resumed the task of photographing additional caves and, in addition, began a highly promising program of training Chinese photographers and computer scientists interested in doing similar work on their own. 

In addition to the appropriation to the Guimet ($420,000), an appropriation of $1.1 million was made to the British Library in response to a request from Dr. Susan Whitfield for support of the digitization and documentation of large numbers of manuscripts and printed scrolls that were transported at the turn of the century from the Library Cave at Dunhuang to London by Sir Aurel Stein. The manuscripts are of great scholarly interest because of the information they provide on the lives of those who traversed the Silk Road and, more generally, on the history and culture of China; they are also of independent interest because some, dating from the 9th century, are the earliest copies of printed texts in the world (produced by the use of wood blocks). The majority of the documents are in Chinese, but there is a substantial collection of documents in Tibetan and Uighur and some in other languages such as Sanskrit. Efforts continue to add other content to the Dunhuang Archive, including manuscripts, textiles, paintings and other objects now located in France, Britain, India, and Russia. 

Although many questions are still open, definite progress has been made in planning the contours of ArtSTOR. Discussions with scholars outside the Foundation, as well as deliberations at the September Trustee Retreat, have confirmed that there is a major opportunity to serve scholars worldwide by providing internet access to both specialized research collections (such as the Design Collection at MoMA, the Mellon International Dunhuang Archive, and other "deep tranches") and a more broadly conceived image gallery that could draw upon different kinds of holdings. Several people with whom we consulted have urged the Foundation to move ahead as rapidly as possible with the establishment of ArtSTOR because of their sense that present efforts to digitize art are too often "institution-centric," inadequately documented, and lacking in awareness of the particular needs of the scholarly community. 

Others have suggested that there is an urgent need for a credible art portal set up on a not-for-profit basis to serve educational and scholarly purposes, to which students and scholars would turn in the first instance to see what content is available. Such an entity might be able to establish standards for digitizing and cataloguing materials and might be able to distribute them using a common database architecture that has considerable functionality, is easy to use, and is highly searchable. Extensive conversations with Michael Ester at Luna Imaging have been very encouraging in this regard. If ArtSTOR materializes, owners of other content may well want to have their collections made available through it (as some preliminary conversations already indicate), especially if a sustainable business model can be developed and links can be established to complementary scholarly resources such as JSTOR and its presumptive art history cluster. 

This opportunity is especially appealing because it lies at the intersection of the Foundation’s longstanding interests in the arts, major museums, galleries, libraries, and scholarship and teaching in the humanities. It also takes advantage of existing staff capabilities and what we have learned about the applications of information technology and intellectual property rights through working with JSTOR and other organizations in the broad field of scholarly communication. At the same time, we recognize that a considerable upfront investment would be needed to launch ArtSTOR; that there is much that we do not know about both the range of desired content and the uses that would be made of the resource for teachers and research by students and scholars; and, finally, that extensive collaborations will be needed with willing partners if ArtSTOR is to become one of Mr. Rockefeller’s proverbial "tall trees." James Shulman is leading the Foundation’s ArtSTOR activities, and he would welcome ideas and suggestions from interested readers. 

Electronic Publishing, Archiving, Portals, and Library Preservation 
So many new developments are occurring within the Foundation’s program of scholarly communication that it is impossible to do justice to even a fraction of them in this report. Let me mention just four. 

Electronic Publishing of Mathematics Journals. The Cornell University Library received a grant of $750,000 to assist "small" publishers of mathematics journals (defined as those who produce three or fewer mathematics titles) to move into the online environment dominated by Springer-Verlag, Elsevier and other large commercial publishers. The vast majority of these small publishers are not commercial concerns, but scholarly societies or departments within universities. Their publications are very important to the academic community and yet they cannot afford to introduce the searching and linking features increasingly expected by users. The Cornell Library has designed a prototype of tools to assist these non-commercial publishers. If this project succeeds, and brings them together under its "Project Euclid" banner, it could be a model for other fields. (The Foundation is also supporting other electronic publishing initiatives, including the creation of a digital version of the Political Science Quarterly by the Academy of Political Science and the development of a digital imprint by the University of Virginia.) 

Archiving of Electronic Journal Publications. Assuring the long-term maintenance of digital information in electronic journals and other forms of electronic publications remains a vexing problem for those responsible for generating and maintaining the scholarly record. It remains unclear whether publishers or libraries (or intermediaries such as JSTOR) should take responsibility for making the investments needed to develop broadly useful archiving capacities. After considerable consultation with librarians and publishers about how best to approach this complex problem, Foundation staff extended an invitation to 13 institutions to participate in the planning phase of a possible new initiative, the Mellon Electronic Journal Archiving Program. The seven institutions that responded with the strongest proposals are Stanford, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Cornell, the New York Public Library, and MIT. We expect to review the ideas developed by these institutions and then to provide additional support in response to the most promising proposals. 

Internet Portal Development. In 2000, the Foundation made new grants to the American Society of International Law and the University of Wisconsin to develop discipline-based internet portal services. Scholars and students today struggle to find precise information in the tangled web of online materials.  The major search engines offer little precision in retrieval and no guarantee of authority, and there are few tools that alert users to new online materials as they appear in any given domain. Portals such as Yahoo! are inadequate for scholarly purposes. These two projects are designed to explore the technical requirements of internet portals that are oriented to scholars and to see whether a standard "toolkit" could be constructed that would lower the costs of developing internet portal services in a variety of disciplines. The widespread interest in resources of this kind is reflected in another grant made in 2000, an appropriation of $1 million to allow the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford to develop a portal to serve the field of forced migration. (The Foundation has also made a grant to the University of Delaware to create portal software that can be used by all colleges and universities—see discussion in the next section.) 

Preservation of Major Research Collections. The rapid development of electronic technologies does not eliminate the need for traditional methods of preservation of important research collections. In 2000, the Foundation made the first of what it expects will be carefully targeted series of endowment grants with matching requirements that are intended to strengthen the capacity of leading research libraries to care properly for the large (and growing) corpus of material for which they are responsible. This first grant, of $2,250,000, went to the New York Public Library, which has developed a new approach to conservation that combines use-based repairs with proactive curatorial involvement to ensure systematic identification and treatment of deteriorating materials. 

Other Applications of Information Technology
As I noted earlier, one of the most oft-repeated requests made by college and university presidents, provosts, and deans in meetings with staff members is that the Foundation provide both leadership and financial support to address shared problems in the field of information technology. Without exception, colleges and universities are eager to take advantage of new opportunities, but they do not want to duplicate efforts or expend larger sums of money than any single institution (or small group of institutions) could afford; also, these institutions are well aware of the problems many face in recruiting and retaining well qualified technical staff. Thinking through this set of issues has been a top priority for Pat McPherson and Danielle Carr within the Foundation’s liberal arts college program. 

As readers of earlier reports will be aware, the Foundation has made large investments in the Center for Educational Technology (CET) at Middlebury College (which has emphasized language teaching in liberal arts colleges). In considering the future of CET, a much broader "Centers Strategy" has been developed that would involve setting up three or more regional centers, each with a special programmatic focus, but each also charged with helping to meet the basic needs for training and technical assistance of liberal arts colleges within its catchment basin. The current plan is to restructure the Center for Educational Technology based at Middlebury College, to enhance an existing center at Southwestern University in Texas, and perhaps to establish a mid-western center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If this approach proves successful, a fourth center might be established on the West coast. Participating colleges would be expected to cover some of the costs of the programs at the centers which benefit them, but the Foundation would also expect to provide centralized guidance (working with an Advisory Committee) and core funding. Collaborations of this kind seem essential if small institutions, in particular, are not to end up on the wrong side of the so-called "digital divide." 

This year also marked the beginning of efforts by the Foundation’s newly appointed Vice President for Research in Information Technology, Ira Fuchs, to assist colleagues, such as Pat McPherson, to address these issues within their own domains and, simultaneously, to recommend strategically important grants that are intended to lead to new, affordable software offerings for the institutions we seek to serve. 

The first appropriation of this kind was made to the University of Delaware ($770,000) in support of the development and distribution of an Open Source Web application that will provide a single electronic gateway for institutions of higher education to use in accessing information resources. A number of commercial solutions are available, but they offer less-than-optimal products. A consortium of universities known as JA-SIG (The Java in Administration Special Interest Group) is creating a collaborative alternative that will result in Open Source portal software and permit institutions of higher education and scholars to consolidate and customize online information in ways that are appropriate locally. 

The intention is to encourage development of a common infrastructure, while permitting institutions and individual scholars to retain the ability to customize their approaches and share new techniques and new software enhancements.  This "uPortal" project will result in a variety of features, including a single graphical interface for access to all university information and services; a single log-on to obtain authentication and authorization to all appropriate information resources and applications; a framework that will facilitate integration of all academic and administrative elements of the university community; an ability for community members to personalize and customize the manner in which they obtain and view information; an ability for universities to control and manage their own internet appearance and content; and, finally, a vendor-independent, non-proprietary Web portal free of undesired commercialization or advertising. 

An even more ambitious project was launched with a grant of nearly $2.5 million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to support the collaborative development of a set of standards and a scalable, sustainable system for Web-enabled education. Many institutions of higher education are beginning to offer courses and other educational materials over the internet, but the tools available from current vendors are often very expensive or incompatible with existing campus computing infrastructures. These difficulties are compounded at smaller institutions, not only because commercial packages are costly but also because of the more daunting cost of customizing these off-the-shelf solutions to fit their environments. Small colleges and universities need comprehensive integrated packages that will permit them to engage in a full range of online teaching and learning initiatives. 

MIT and a group of collaborating institutions are proposing an "Open Knowledge Initiative" that will begin by defining and publishing a set of standards for creating a Web-based learning environment. In addition, the Open Knowledge Initiative will identify, design, and package a set of Web-enabled learning components that will be of service to the widest range of educational institutions. By working within a standards-based framework, the Open Knowledge Initiative will permit universities and colleges, as well as commercial vendors, to construct additional components and modules that can be seamlessly integrated with the set of base components. Examples of such new components include voice recording, instructor voice annotation, management of multimedia content, and integration with online data collections. 

Other Programs

Space will permit me to mention only one new (or developing) theme within each of the other major program areas. The Foundation expects to continue to invest amounts ranging from $15 to more than $20 million within each, and readers interested in learning more about new plans should contact the appropriate program officers or senior advisors (Angelica Rudenstine for Museums, William Robertson for Conservation and the Environment, Catherine Wichterman for Performing Arts, and Carolyn Makinson for Population/Forced Migration). Last year’s annual report contained a long essay by Ms. Makinson on developments in her areas, and Catherine Wichterman contributed a similar essay, focused on symphony orchestras, in the 1998 annual report. 

Science and Art Conservation

Quarterly Trustee meetings are often the occasion for discussion of a paper by a staff member outlining a proposed new area of emphasis. Last December, Angelica Rudenstine, Senior Advisor for the Museum and Art Conservation Program, presented a position paper on "Scientific Research in Art Conservation" that described the history of such research and then reported conclusions based on extensive consultations with scientists and conservators including a series of three round-table discussions (in February 1999, August 1999, and March 2000). These discussions highlighted some of the complexities that characterize the field and make it difficult to chart an immediate course for program development. For example, conservation science lacks clear definition and involves a number of different kinds of activity. It is not a scientific discipline in itself, but rather brings together various fields (chemistry, engineering, physics, biology, geology, etc.) to serve the purposes of conservation and curatorial scholarship. In addition, there is no specific training for the "conservation scientist," and indeed there is considerable consensus among scientists in North America that a special postgraduate degree in conservation science, however defined, would inevitably lack rigorous scientific focus and would therefore fail to attract excellent candidates. 

While there is much more to be learned from continuing conversations and study, the need for more scientists is clear; establishment of senior positions at major museums is seen as the highest priority. Yet museums lack the resources to make such major investments on their own. The Foundation’s Trustees have indicated their willingness to fund a limited number of new positions (probably through endowment) and to contribute toward planning and equipping labs and developing research programs. An important first step was taken at the December meeting of the Trustees with the approval of an appropriation of $2,750,000 to the Art Institute of Chicago, which will now launch a search for a senior scientist. This individual will be charged with leading a coordinated effort to integrate science into the ongoing conservation activities of the museum. Once on staff, such a scientist might also be in a position to establish partnerships with scientists in neighboring universities, in industry, and in other museums in order to build and strengthen the department. Over time, it would of course also be desirable to make provision for junior positions or postdoctoral fellowships, but recruitment of senior leadership plainly must come first 

Collaboration in Ecosystems Research

The importance of institutional collaborations has grown within every programmatic area supported by the Foundation. This trend is perhaps most pronounced among liberal arts colleges, and is clearly reflected in the "Centers Strategy" for taking advantage of advances in information technology as well as in coordinated efforts to design new programs of faculty career enhancement and library collaboration. Among research universities, collaborations are taking place in, for example, efforts to share responsibility for storing core library collections. But it is in the research area that the practice of working together, across institutional lines, is most firmly established. 

The following examples illustrate the Foundation’s approach in encouraging collaborations within the field of ecology. 

• To begin outside the United States, a University of Cape Town research group studying mechanisms controlling the distribution of alternative grassland types in southern Africa savannas has successfully enlisted collaborators from the University of Waneningen, in The Netherlands, and the University of the Witwatersrand, University of Stellenbosch, and the National Botanical Institute of South Africa. As in all research of this kind, the Foundation encourages the inclusion of a strong training component, and much has been accomplished by involving students in the program. Also in South Africa, the Foundation is working to establish a number of research and training efforts using the facilities and ecosystems contained in Kruger National Park. These projects will involve extensive collaborations with scientists in the United States as well as at various South African universities. 

• The interrelated set of research and training projects that study a range of ecosystem processes across the Hawaiian islands began with project grants to Stanford University and has expanded to include researchers at 24 universities, producing about 100 peer-reviewed publications since 1997. The islands of Hawaii are created by the movement of a tectonic plate across a "hot spot" of volcanic activity, and the sites of the Hawaiian Ecosystems Study range from only days old to over four million years old.  The combination of broad ranges of climates and soil ages with a nearly uniform geology and relatively simple native biota makes possible analyses of ecosystem interactions that cannot be easily matched elsewhere. 

• Perhaps the most extensive collaboration within the ecosystems program is longstanding support for expanding the range of ideas and collaborations within the Hubbard Brook Ecosystems Study (HBES). Hubbard Brook is part of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. In 1983, HBES was initiated by Drs. F. Herbert Bormann, Gene E. Likens, Noye M. Johnson, and Robert S. Pierce.  The Foundation provided "venture capital" for HBES beginning in 1980 and, while most of the actual research has been supported by others (chiefly the National Science Foundation and Forest Service), the program has involved more than 150 senior investigators since then, has resulted in over 1,500 publications, and is one of the most extensive and longest lasting continuous research efforts on natural ecosystems. 

International Opportunities in the Performing Arts

The Foundation’s programs in the performing arts, led by Catherine Wichterman, combine continuing concern for the commissioning of new work, the strengthening of important institutions (as in the highly successful Symphony Orchestra Program), and new departures. In the materials she prepared for the September Retreat, Ms. Wichterman noted that: 

Increasingly, artists in all disciplines are working in an international environment. They need access to touring markets, but more important, they need opportunities to explore influences on their work that originate in other countries and cultures. We are having conversations with Arts International about ways to help facilitate artist exchanges and residencies, and additional resources could be extremely beneficial in this effort. We would not foresee funding companies outside the US, but providing access for American artists is critical in this environment, particularly in the development of new work. 

This idea has already been translated into a proposed grant to Arts International prepared for consideration by the Trustees at their first meeting in 2001. The grant, of $750,000 to support international exchange programs, would not only allow emerging US companies to explore creative and technical options abroad, it would help members of the next generation of American artists to establish global reputations. The Initiative illustrates well the "international" theme noted near the start of the report. 

Applied Research in Population and Forced Migration

In her essay included in last year’s annual report, Carolyn Makinson provided a comprehensive description of the Foundation’s activities in the field of refugee studies and forced migration. Since then, the Foundation’s population program has undergone fundamental restructuring and change.  The programs in population and forced migration have merged, and staff are thinking about how best to take advantage of the resulting opportunities for synergy. We anticipate that larger grants will be made in areas of continuing interest—especially as capacity for applied research grows among practitioner organizations and university centers in the field of forced migration, as demographic centers develop new programs on urbanization and internal migration, and as selected centers in developing countries (e.g., Costa Rica, Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa) expand their programs. 

Perhaps the most noteworthy development is the evident—and very gratifying—interest of practitioner organizations and leading centers of applied research in the social sciences to work closely together. For example, the Carolina Population Center (CPC), one of the leading demographic centers in the US, is collaborating with IPAS, an organization that provides technical assistance and training to reproductive health organizations in developing countries. CPC and IPAS plan to work together in Mexico and Kenya to evaluate the feasibility of using the World Wide Web to educate adolescents on reproductive health issues and to collect information from them on their knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. CPC intends to assess the Web as a mechanism by which to conduct longitudinal surveys, addressing issues such as confidentiality, attrition, missing data, and cost effectiveness; IPAS hopes the project will improve the design and implementation of its health programs for adolescents. This is another form of collaboration that offers real hope of improving both the quality of the underlying research (by grounding it in issues that matter) and the capacity of "front-line" organizations to make use of what can be learned about approaches that are more and less effective. 

* * * *

As I hope this brief recitation of some of the directions in which the Foundation is moving makes clear, the year just past has been an extremely exciting and rewarding one for the staff and the Trustees. It is a privilege of the highest order to have the opportunity to consider how most effectively to make use of even larger resources, and I am sorry only that the need to honor at least some rough space constraint has prevented me from providing more examples and more detail. (I have been able to mention only a small fraction of the grants made during 2000 and have said nothing about the ongoing research program of the Foundation; as always, the back part of the report contains a complete listing of all appropriations approved in the last year.) 

In concluding the report, I want to say a special word of thanks to the Foundation’s grantees, whom we regard as full partners in the process of designing and carrying out programs. Some considerable fraction of the time of staff members is devoted to meeting, singly and in groups, with presidents, provosts, deans, faculty members, directors of programs, and other interested parties. These discussions are almost always wide-ranging and productive. It is the ideas of those most directly involved in the core activities of teaching, learning, performing, delivering services, providing information resources, and thinking new thoughts that drive our grantmaking. We rely heavily on this small army of "partners," and I suspect that we do not say "thank you" often enough.

William G. Bowen
February 13, 2001

 


Notes

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