From its earliest days, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (and its predecessor foundations) has had a deep interest in the arts and culture. The tangible expression of this interest has been over 225 million dollars of grants made to organizations active in these fields since 1969. The Foundation's continuing support for museums, art conservation, and the performing arts is one of its defining characteristics. Andrew W. Mellon was of course the founder of the National Gallery of Art in Washington. His children maintained a keen interest in that museum and helped to establish and strengthen others as well. Mr. Mellon's daughter, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, was a discerning collector of paintings and decorative art and a great lover of the opera. His son, Paul Mellon, is respected worldwide for his knowledge of art, his support of arts institutions and libraries, his own collections, and his sponsorship of unique publishing projects such as the Bollingen series. Thus, the Foundation can fairly claim a distinguished lineage in the arts and culture.
In our view, the case for support of organizations in these fields, quite apart from historical antecedents, is as strong today as it ever has been. Present-day concerns in this country with economic and social problems, while entirely appropriate, do not justify neglecting those aspects of life that give meaning to everyday pursuits, stimulate mind, eye and ear, and sustain the spirit. Indeed, continued nourishment of the arts is surely essential to the long-term health of the entire society. Moreover, we believe there are, at this time, unusual opportunities in the arts. Yet, fiscal stringencies have caused many funding sources--and especially some of the state arts councils--to cut back sharply on their support at the very time when key organizations are most vulnerable. The economic forces that jeopardize prospects for organizations of all kinds are particularly threatening to arts groups, most of which lack ample reserves and have no ready way to offset declining revenues. For these reasons, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has not only continued its longstanding activities in these fields, it has enlarged upon them.
As in other areas in which the Foundation is active, the specific directions of the arts program have evolved, not only in the light of experience and changing circumstances, but also according to decisions to focus in successive years on particular objectives and types of institutions. We believe that we should describe the Foundation's current emphases in terms that both alert relevant organizations to potential opportunities and stimulate comment on the programmatic directions that have been chosen. In that spirit, we are pleased to devote a major part of this year's annual report to an account by Rachel Newton Bellow of the Foundation's activities in the arts and culture-fields encompassing museums, art conservation, the performing arts, and literary publishing.
This year's discussion of the arts and culture complements last year's review by Carolyn Makinson of population studies and population policy and an earlier commentary by Neil L. Rudenstine on the field of literacy. We have taken each year's annual report as an occasion to consider one area of Foundation activity in some depth, and to give the relevant staff member the opportunity to comment directly on the Foundation's work in the area. This practice has proved useful, and we expect to continue it.
Before yielding to Ms Bellow, I wish to comment on the Foundation's activities in doctoral education, to note the Foundation's continuing commitment to programs intended to increase the number of minority students of high talent who pursue PhDs in selected fields within the arts and sciences, to discuss briefly another area that we are continuing to explore in depth (the future of research libraries, especially as they affect, and are affected by, new technologies in scholarly communication), and to express appreciation to our former colleague, Neil L. Rudenstine, who now serves as President of Harvard University, for his many contributions to the work of the Foundation.
In our 1989 annual report, we discussed the Foundation's interest in PhD programs in the humanities and related social sciences. Since then, the Foundation's research in this field has led to the publication of a book. In Pursuit of the PhD, which analyzes completion rates and time-to-degree, seen in relation to fields of study, the scale of graduate programs, curricula, patterns of financial support for students, and labor market conditions in various periods. Close attention is given to the results that have been achieved by such national fellowship programs as the Danforth, Woodrow Wilson, NSF, NDEA, Whiting, and Mellon Fellowships in the Humanities. Another part of the study examines the extraordinary growth in the number of PhD-granting programs that occurred in the 1960s and that then continued in spite of the depressed academic labor markets of the 1970s and early 1980s.
This research was stimulated by our need to understand more fully the educational effectiveness of both existing graduate programs and various kinds of national fellowship programs if we were to know better how to support doctoral education. One major (and surprising) conclusion to emerge from this research is that multi-year fellowship programs in the humanities and related social sciences have rarely achieved completion rates as high as 60 percent. The record to date indicates that, in many instances, approximately half of the carefully-selected winners of these prestigious awards do not complete doctorates in spite of having had access to considerable financial support on a sustained basis. Furthermore, recipients of national fellowships who do earn doctorates do not complete their studies appreciably faster than other graduate students in the same fields, attending the same universities. Median time-to-degree for various subsets of students in the humanities has generally been at least seven years, and as much as nine or ten years in some situations.
The more closely we examined the experiences of nearly 13,000 recipients of national fellowships in the arts and sciences, comparing them with more than 30,000 other doctoral candidates, the more persuaded we became that efforts to improve the effectiveness of graduate education should be focused directly on specific graduate programs at individual universities--on the assumptions, structures, regulations, incentives, advising mechanisms, and patterns of support (including the use of teaching assistantships in undergraduate education) characteristic of these programs. Efforts to assist graduate education by providing portable fellowships to individual candidates for PhDs have unquestionably been valuable-especially by encouraging able students to pursue academic careers--but they do not appear to have had systemic effects on completion rates or time-to-degree.
Following a great deal of discussion with graduate deans, provosts, and faculty members, the Foundation has made grants totaling nearly $12 millon to ten universities for use in 47 individual graduate programs. As explained in the 1989 annual report (pdf), these ten universities were chosen because they have attracted the largest numbers of winners of portable Mellon Fellowships in the Humanities and were therefore regarded as having unusually strong doctoral programs in the humanities. Each of these universities, in turn, nominated four or five departments for inclusion in this program.
Each participating department submitted a plan indicating in deail how it proposed to use these flexible funds, often in the context of revisions in its curriculum and internal organization intended to improve the quality of graduate training while simultaneously raising completion rates and reducing time-to-degree. For example, in fields such as anthropology and art history, a number of departments proposed to provide modest summer grants for the purpose of enabling students to determine early on whether particular plans for field work and archival research were feasible. In other instances, departments proposed to provide combinations of summer and term-time support on a competitive basis to students who were working on dissertation prospectuses after having met certain requirements (such as passing qualifying examinations) by specified times. Departments in almost all fields wished to reserve some of their funds for students in the final stages of writing dissertations, so as to free them from all obligations (particularly teaching responsibilities) other than completing their degrees. In every case, it is the combination of additional flexible funds and changes in departmental procedures and practice that is expected to have beneficial effects.
The participating universities and departments have provided the Foundation with detailed baseline data describing the progress of previous cohorts of students so that it will be possible to compare the results achieved through this new program with those achieved earlier. All universities participating in this program are committed to careful monitoring of experiences, and to full publication of whatever lessons are learned. Graduate education is such an important institution that it deserves, we believe, both strong support and continuing evaluation aimed at ensuring that available resources are used as effectively as possible.
Assuming satisfactory progress, the Foundation expects to continue supporting the ten participating universities for at least five years. By that time it should be possible to arrive at a reasonably reliable assessment of the effectiveness of the program as it is now conceived and to decide if it should be terminated, continued for some additional period of time in its present form, extended to include additional universities or departments, or modified in some other way.
The Trustees of the Foundation have also approved a new, complementary program of merit-based, entry-level, portable fellowships, with generous stipends for the first year of graduate study. This program is designed explicitly to encourage highly talented undergraduates to enroll in PhD programs in the humanities, with the understanding that these Fellows will need to compete with other graduate students for support from university funds after their first year of graduate study. The new entry-level program will replace the current program of multi-year Mellon Fellowships in the Humanities, which was begun in 1983 and designed to last for ten years. The tenth and last "class" of recipients is to be chosen in the spring of 1992, and the Foundation will of course continue to support the latest recipients of these multi-year awards as they progress through graduate school, with the consequence that Foundation funding will be required through most of the 1990s.
Questions concerning the Foundation's program of institutional grants in support of graduate education should be directed to Harriet Zuckerman, Vice President of the Foundation, who has continuing responsibility for its oversight. Responsibility for administering both the old and new portable fellowship programs rests with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Robert F. Goheen, who has served with distinction as director of the initial program since its inception in 1983, will relinquish these duties after the selection of the last cohort of recipients this spring. Alvin Keman, formerly Dean of the Graduate School at Princeton and Professor of Humanities at Princeton and (earlier) at Yale, has agreed to succeed Dr. Goheen, and to exercise oversight of both the initial program and the new one. Dr. Kernan is also serving as Senior Advisor to the Foundation in the humanities.
Candidates for Doctorates from Underrepresented Minority Groups
We believe strongly that efforts to strengthen the capacity of graduate institutions to meet the staffing requirements of our colleges and universities should address simultaneously the problems--and opportunities--associated with the exceedingly small numbers of minority students currently receiving doctorates in many of the core fields within the arts and sciences. In 1990, for example, only 19 black Americans (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) earned doctorates in English and American literature combined; and only 16 Hispanics earned doctorates in these same fields. The educational rationale for seeking greater diversity is well understood and seems not in question.
Accordingly, in company with other foundations, corporations, individual educational institutions, and government agencies, this Foundation has taken a number of steps over the years to encourage larger numbers of talented minority students to pursue PhDs in the arts and sciences. Energetic efforts have been made (and will be made) to include minority candidates within the portable fellowship programs described above; also, most graduate programs recelving institutional support from the Foundation are themselves working to increase the diversity of pools of candidates for PhDs. In 1988, under the leadership of Henry Drewry, the Foundation initiated an ambitious program aimed directly at what has seemed a central part of the problem--namely, the small numbers of talented undergraduates from minority groups who think seriously about doctoral programs in the arts and sciences sufficiently early in their college years.
This new program, called the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUFP), is carried out in collaboration with 19 participating colleges and universities and the United Negro College Fund. Awards are made by these institutions to approximately 120 new recipients each year, and we are encouraged by early results to believe that the program will have a substantial long-term impact. Questions concerning its legal status under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 have been stimulated by the proposed "Policy Guidance" issued by the Department of Education on December 4, 1991. In an effort to confirm our view that this program is consistent with the Department's interpretation of Title VI, we have submitted a statement to the Department describing the program and our understanding of its relationship to the proposed Policy Guidance; we have also submitted a more comprehensive Comment on the proposed Poficy Guidance (copies of both documents are available on request). The Trustees of the Foundation remain strongly committed to this program, and to the larger purposes it is intended to serve.
Research Libraries and New Technologies
Representatives of the Foundation have been seeking to understand better the forces affecting the well-being and future of research libraries in major universities. Historical data have been assembled in order to analyze long-term trends in acquisitions and expenditures, seen in relation to overall levels of university expenditures, trends in the volume of scholarly materials published, and technological developments. That research is now nearly complete, and it has helped persuade us that renewed efforts should be made to consider how all of the entities concerned with scholarly communication and the availability of scholarly materials might take fuller advantage of opportunities offered by electronic publishing and related technologies. There are major organizational, economic, and legal issues to be addressed, as well as concerns about the amount and quality of scholarship that is published and the likelihood of further changes in available technology.
Consistent with the Foundation's longstanding interest in research libraries, we are now in the early stages of exploring such issues in greater depth. Mentioning this topic in such a preliminary way is intended to encourage interested parties to bring relevant reports and other materials to our attention. We are now seeking to define more precisely what it might make sense for the Foundation to do. (Simultaneously, the Foundation is working with a small number of independent research libraries to stabilize their finances and assist them in their long range planning.)
While a number of our colleagues have an interest in various aspects of this area, primary responsibility for leading these efforts rests with Richard Ekman, formerly Director of the Division of Research Programs of the National Endowment for the Humanities and now Secretary of the Foundation. He will be pleased to hear from organizations and individuals with ideas to contribute.
I wish to conclude my part of this annual report by acknowledging the contributions of Neil L. Rudenstine to the work of the Foundation from January 1988 through June 1991. Whatever was accomplished over this period owes more to his insights, hard work, and unfailing judgment than others will ever know--or, to paraphrase one of Mr. Rudenstine's favorite quotations from Henry Adams, "even suspect." It would serve no purpose to attempt to delimit his activities at the Foundation, since that could not be done in any case. The staff and Trustees are enormously grateful to him for both his leadership and his friendship.
It is perhaps fitting that the personal partnership the two of us enjoyed for 23 years at Princeton and then at the Foundation reached at least one kind of culmination in the study of doctoral education which we completed last summer. Working with Mr. Rudenstine on that fascinating, if seemingly endless, project demonstrated yet again his extraordinary intelligence, versatility, doggedness--and patience and good humor. That experience will continue to remind me, and others who were involved, of what a pleasure it has been, at a purely personal level, to be associated with him. The present perfect tense is particularly appropriate in the above sentence, since it connotes that the association is very much a continuing one.
We congratulate Mr. Rudenstine--and Harvard--on his appointment as president. We wish him every success and much satisfaction as he addresses issues important to all who care about the future of higher education.
Willam G. Bowen
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
140 East 62nd Street
New York, NY 10021