In the early months of 1976 the most visible—and audible—of this Foundation's activities has undoubtedly been its participation in the funding of "The Adams Chronicles." This major historical series, built around the coming of American independence and the shaping of a new nation during its first 150 years as seen through the lives of four generations of a remarkable family, was designed for presentation in thirteen one-hour programs over the national public television network.
For the talented production team at New York's WNET/13 the project represented an opportunity to show what educational broadcasting, given adequate time and funding and the help of skillful editors and historians, could do to create—out of more than 300,000 pages of letters, diaries, journals and other period records and resources—a series highlighting the play of individual energies and ambitions, of intelligence and character, of principle and circumstance, in this country's formative years; a series that would combine historical accuracy, artistic quality and dramatic interest.
For the Foundation the project represented a rare foray into the public media, reflecting a decision to concentrate its Bicentennial effort on a single major undertaking. In addition to illuminating important chapters in the nation's past, "The Adams Chronicles" appeared to offer an opportunity to explore ways in which humanistic learning and artistic talent might more effectively reach a national audience through a medium of greater qualitative potential than yet realized on the American scene. The project also brought forth related teaching materials for use in hundreds of schools and colleges, as well as history and source books that should be of lasting value. No part of the undertaking could have begun to reach its goals without the extraordinarily comprehensive materials made available by the Adams family, the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Harvard University Press, or without the primary funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
While this enterprise has been the most visible of our recent grants, the Foundation has continued to focus its major resources on programs and projects within its principal fields of interest: higher education, humanistic studies, the arts, conservation and the environment, and selected areas of medical education and research, population, and public affairs.
In the field of higher education, we have been painfully aware of the effects of rising costs on virtually all institutions and have become particularly concerned about the consequences of sharp inflation and fiscal contraction upon the nation's major universities. The latter, we believe, constitute a national resource of enormous significance—one that plays a key role in the society's long-term capacity to cope with change, and one already identified as an endangered species.
In addition to tasks shared with other sectors of higher education for the transmission of knowledge and for the education of each year's new wave of undergraduates, the major research universities bear fundamental duties beyond. In a knowledge-based society they carry a unique combination of responsibilities for preserving the cumulative cultural record through their great libraries, museums, and special collections and through the training of those who will carry on the tradition of Western learning; and for sustaining the processes of discovery and nurturing new generations of creative investigators through their graduate schools, laboratories, and multiple research activities. These are immensely costly undertakings, at once capital-intensive and skill-intensive. They are under mounting strain as the demands for specialized knowledge increase the sophistication and cost of scientific equipment and other scholarly resources, while budgets suffer from inflation and from discontinuities of funding for research and advanced training. Although many categories of institutions have been sadly hurt by surging costs, it can be argued that no other plays as crucial a role as the major research university in generating the knowledge and special talents that define our capacity to respond to the demands which accelerating change will continue to press upon us.
It is imperative that this nation find ways of sustaining its great research universities, public and private, and that it do so in ways which avoid undue government interference in their freedom of inquiry or operation. And this requires encouraging the full range of their essential strengths. In the physical and biomedical sciences the case for substantial and predictable government support of basic and applied research has become self-evident; the needs are so large and the national interest so clear that public funds will have to play a major role in sustaining the creative process. But the complexity of modern life also makes clear the need to develop and enlist allied skills from the social sciences in the search for "fresh combinations"—in Whitehead's phrase—that transcend specializations and that may offer new and effective ways of bringing knowledge to bear on the problems of living and coping with this world. And to comprehend, interpret, or guide the course of our culture—and perhaps at intervals to shed light on the meaning and purpose of the whole panoply around us—we can neglect neither the arts nor serious pursuit of the humanities. Insight and wisdom are not easily taught, nor are the character and spirit of a society readily measured. Yet can we doubt that through its arts and humanities one gets a window into the ultimate nature of a civilization-whether ancient Greece or Rome, or Medieval Europe, or Aztec or Mayan cultures, or Confucian China—a measure of its sense of beauty and joy, its values and goals, its relative cohesion and self-confidence, perhaps even its sense of identity? All these continuing and compelling needs lead us back to the imperative of sustaining our major universities as great creative enterprises—a national resource at the heart of the interconnected system of modern learning.
But substantial and predictable support for the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts within the university is not at all well-assured. In some areas of study and research, government funding may be inappropriate; in many it must be provided with special sensitivity; in few is it likely to be forthcoming at sufficient volume to meet the readily visible need. In these fields, then, the contributions of individuals and of organized private philanthropy remain of the highest importance.
Examination of the university scene today indicates a condition of unusual peril in the humanities, an area in which this Foundation has long felt a special commitment. Abrupt contraction of funding and of career opportunities threatens the continuing flow, even on a much reduced scale, of the ablest young talent into humanistic fields. In an effort to lessen that loss, the Foundation has directed nearly $10 million this year toward providing rotating opportunities for post-doctoral or other junior faculty appointments at leading universities. These grants have a twofold objective. They are intended to assist younger scholars in the humanities toward continued growth in their own fields or toward training in allied fields that offer more promising opportunities. At the same time it is hoped that they will contribute to the strength, vitality, and morale of the graduate schools by allowing them to make an additional few appointments of gifted junior scholars in a period when financial constraints threaten to produce a static—and steadily aging—academic community.
Reflecting our particular concern for the private sector, these grants have gone to leading independent universities. During the two years of this program, begun in 1974 under President Pusey's leadership and continued in 1975, a total of more than $17 million has been appropriated to create more than 200 such opportunities through funds expendable over the next three to five years, and to establish approximately 50 such rotating places on an endowed basis thereafter. It should be noted that the Foundation does not itself award these fellowships; the appointments are made directly by the universities through their own procedures.
Though this program is drawing to a close, we remain acutely aware of the problems ahead as demographic trends foreshadow leveling and then declining numbers in the traditional college-entry age group through the 1980's and into the 1990's. To develop a clearer picture of what these years may bring, the Foundation has funded an intensive two-year study of career opportunities, both inside and outside academic life, for those trained in the humanities.
To assist younger scholars in these and allied fields to bring their early work to publication, the Foundation has made a second round of grants, totaling $1.4 million, for 25 university presses; and it has made another $250,000 available to the American Council of Learned Societies to enable it to provide awards on a competitive basis to other presses in the Association of American University Presses. Searching for longer-term solutions to the interlocking problems of the rising costs of publication of books and learned journals, the exploding growth of library budgets, and the need to find new ways for scholarly knowledge to reach its users, we have joined other foundations and the National Endowment for the Humanities in launching a two-year (1976–1977) National Enquiry into the Production and Dissemination of Scholarly Knowledge.
In further support of humanistic scholarship and classical studies—following previous grants to the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, the American Academy in Rome, and Harvard's Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti in Florence—the Foundation provided a professorship to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. It also awarded a major grant to the University of Michigan to make possible completion of the long and learned efforts that have gone into the Middle English Dictionary, a monumental work under way for more than sixty years that will document and analyze the basic vocabulary of the language with reference to all known manuscript materials from 1100 to 1500.
The Foundation made further grants in support of a category of institutions for which it has felt particular concern, the independent liberal arts college—a distinctively American creation with a primary commitment to liberal education and effective undergraduate teaching. To assist a limited number of such institutions of academic quality and potential leadership, appropriations totaling $2.24 million were made to 11 more colleges in 1975. The purpose of these grants was again to help individual institutions establish processes of faculty development and curricular renewal of their own design in a period of financial retrenchment, reduced faculty turnover, and prospective steady-state conditions.
The Foundation made contributions, totaling just over $2 million, in three other program areas of continuing interest: grants to strengthen liberal arts offerings at urban universities that serve large metropolitan areas and students with heavily career-focused interests; assistance to colleges and universities that are developing ways to encourage young women's aspirations and preparation for the new fields and the higher levels of responsibility that are now opening to them; and grants assisting minority access to higher education at colleges and in the fields of medicine, engineering, and library science. The Foundation also made seven grants, totaling $2.7 million, in the field of theological education.
Cultural organizations and the arts have remained another large area of continued Foundation activity. Apart from participation in "The Adams Chronicles," the Foundation's most venturesome action has undoubtedly been its $1.4 million contribution to ten professional modern dance companies to provide the artistic director of each with a discretionary fund, for use during a period of three or more years, to assist and stimulate the quality of the company's creative performance. It should be noted that these grants are not for general support and hence do not lessen the companies' need of continuing assistance. They are special contributions to provide flexibility and the opportunity for further creative accomplishment in an art form which has experienced tremendous advance in recent years—both in achievement and in public response—and in which American leadership has gained world-wide recognition.
Grants of similar nature and intent, totaling $800,000, were made to five major non-profit theatres in New York City. Appropriations of approximately $500,000 were awarded to The New York Botanical Garden toward the restoration of its Conservatory and to the Metropolitan Opera Association and Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York to provide a new mobile stage and shell for the summer concerts in New York City's parks.
Major assistance was given to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., toward the construction of its new building. Designed by I. M. Pei, the building rises to the east of the original Gallery, toward the Capitol, and promises to be an exciting piece of sculpture in its own right. It will provide needed space for expanded collections, public activities, a library, and the projected Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. The Foundation expects to continue its support through 1976 and 1977 to help assure completion of this ambitious addition, which should significantly enhance the range of activities of one of the nation's great museums.
Though the Foundation has had to decline repeated requests for the preservation or restoration of individual historic buildings or other landmarks, it made a further grant of $500,000 to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to augment the revolving loan fund through which it assists a wide variety of local projects.
Within our interest in the field of conservation and the environment, grants were made to three well-established organizations to enable them to develop new capacities or to conduct particular projects. The National Audubon Society was assisted in developing its scientific capacity to respond to the wider range of ecological calls upon its staff and to organize task forces appropriate to particular problems. Resources for the Future received partial support for a comprehensive analysis of existing studies of energy supply and use in conjunction with an effort to develop rational strategies for a national energy policy. The Conservation Foundation was assisted in an effort to bridge the gulf in understanding between environmentalists and the business community through a program of research, conferences, and publication. In addition, two new undertakings were helped on their way: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received support for an international monitoring project that will focus initially on changes in the ozone layer and the earth's albedo; and The Institute of Ecology was given a grant for use in moving toward a self-sustaining program and funding base.
Grants in the field of advanced medical education and research were fewer in 1975 but our interest in the field remains active. A sustaining grant to The Population Council reflects the Foundation's continued participation in that field, and other grants indicate our interests in selected fields of public affairs.
A Summary of larger grants follows, arranged under main program headings, and thereafter a complete listing of all grants made during 1975 by category and institutional recipient. In all, the Foundation made appropriations of $39,822,896 in 1975 and paid out $34,225,697. In making these awards it had to decline—with regret—many hundreds of applications, including large numbers of obvious merit which fell outside the scope of our programs or had to be accorded lesser priority within them. The total amount appropriated for charitable purposes by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and its predecessors, the Avalon and Old Dominion Foundations, has now reached $377,057,762. The Foundation received $39,165,526 in net income during 1975 and the market or appraised value of its assets on December 31, 1975 was $623,418,000.
Significant changes took place during 1975 in the ranks of those who oversee and guide the Foundation's activities. After nearly twenty years of service to this Foundation and its predecessors, our senior Trustee, Stoddard M. Stevens, retired in June. He had been a forceful presence on the Board of both the Avalon and Old Dominion Foundations, since 1957 and 1958 respectively, and had been instrumental in the consolidation of both into the present Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 1969. In recognition of his long and vigorous service and his key role in the life of all three Foundations, the Trustees elected him an Honorary Trustee. At the June meeting of the Board, William 0. Baker, President of Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc.—a Trustee of Old Dominion since 1965, of Avalon since 1967, and of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation since its founding—was made Chairman of the Board of Trustees. On the same occasion John R. Stevenson, a partner in Sullivan & Cromwell and former Chief of the U.S. Delegation to the Law of the Sea Conference (July 1973–May 1975), was elected to the vacancy left by Mr. Stevens' retirement.
The June meeting also marked the completion of Nathan M. Pusey's six years as Trustee and his nearly four years as President of the Foundation. During these years he brought to the Foundation the stature and experience of his previous office as President of Harvard, a wide acquaintance with American colleges and universities that extended back through nine years as President of Lawrence College, and long-standing scholarly interests as a teacher of Classics at Lawrence, Scripps, and Wesleyan. His clear sense of the standards of the best in higher education and humanistic scholarship, his deep concern over the contracting opportunities facing young people now entering these careers, and his special interest in theological education have all been reflected in our programs; and his lean prose, expeditious administrative ways, and consistent concern for quality have strongly influenced our operating procedures. Upon Mr. Pusey's retirement at 68, the Trustees in June elected me to succeed him as President and Trustee. In September James M. Morris, Assistant Professor of Classics and a Dean at Yale, joined the staff as a Program Director.
In closing this report on the year 1975, I want to express appreciation of the welcome extended to new officers by the Trustees; to thank a small, hard-working staff who handle a large volume of business with care and skill; and to convey the hope that the multiple wider publics who turn to us feel they have been treated reasonably and courteously, even though fewer than five applicants in a hundred could be helped within the limits of our programs and available resources.
JOHN E. SAWYER
March 1, 1976