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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

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About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Foundation supports a modest, but important, research program in order to (a) contribute new ideas to fields in which the Foundation is active, in an effort to benefit directly institutions such as historical societies which we support as grantees; (b) stimulate new or improved grantmaking in areas such as doctoral education and the education of – more... minority students; (c) enhance the ability of staff to evaluate the results achieved by grantmaking; and (d) create an intellectual milieu that will be attractive to able staff members. More generally, the research program reinforces the commitment of the Foundation to longterm analyses and solutions.

All of the research carried out or sponsored by the Foundation is in fields in which we are active as grantmakers; we seek to maximize the interactions between research into problems and grantmaking intended to ameliorate them. Having started out by working on issues facing higher education (and particularly doctoral education), we then shifted much of our attention to the management of nonprofit entities and published a series of books, including case studies of institutions with particularly instructive histories, that were intended to broaden understanding of the challenges faced by charitable nonprofits in defining their missions and managing their financial resources. (Note 5) These topics are important to many of our grantees, and we continue to have an interest in them--an interest that has been reinforced and encouraged by John Whitehead, who has himself funded the establishment of a program in the management of nonprofits at the Harvard Business School. Now, however, we have returned to our earlier interest and are (again) focusing our research activities mainly on higher education.

In the spring of 1996, a conference on higher education was convened by Princeton University as part of the celebration of its 250th anniversary. President Harold Shapiro of Princeton and I served as co-directors; while the University was responsible for all costs associated with the conference itself, much of the research presented at the conference had been sponsored by the Foundation. This institutional collaboration is now resulting in the publication of a series of books on a wide range of topics: factors causing increases in institutional costs (by Charles Clotfelter); recent developments in the humanities (edited by Alvin Kernan); long-term trends in admission, financial aid, and enrollments at liberal arts colleges (by Elizabeth Duffy and Idana Goldberg); the effects of changes in Federal financial aid programs on access to higher education (by Michael McPherson and Morton Schapiro); issues of accountability, presidential leadership, and the role of faculties (edited by Harold Shapiro and myself); and efforts by educational institutions to address the complex issues of diversity (edited by Eugene Lowe).

In addition, Fredrick Vars and I completed a paper on "SAT Scores, Race, and Academic Performance" at academically selective colleges and universities that is to be published soon in a volume edited by Christopher Jencks and Meredith Phillips. This study is the first to use the huge database that the Foundation is building through its College and Beyond project. Eventually, the Foundation's College and Beyond database will include detailed educational and life histories on sets of matriculants at 34 academically selective colleges and universities who began their studies in the fall terms of 1951, 1976, and 1989 (approximately 95,000 individuals overall). The Foundation has formed an advisory committee, chaired by President Michael McPherson of Macalester College, to assist in developing guidelines concerning access to this database and appropriate methods of protecting the absolute confidentiality of information provided by both individuals and institutions. This exceedingly complex and ambitious project, which grew out of what we thought was an innocent interest in the evolution of intercollegiate athletics, is directed by James Shulman, and inquiries concerning it should be directed to him.

As is evident from what has been said already, the Foundation has a particularly strong interest in the issues of both educational policy and public policy associated with the efforts of colleges and universities to enroll larger numbers of minority students. Our concern is not just with enhanced access to educational opportunities, important as that is, but also with: (a) how well colleges and universities are preparing minority students, and especially those at the upper end of the test-score range (who are enrolled in highly disproportionate numbers at the institutions included in our database); (b) the educational benefits of diversity-which are often asserted but hard to pin down; and (c) the subsequent experiences and contributions of the increased numbers of minority students who have attended leading colleges and universities over the last 30 years. The Foundation's Counsel, Stephanie Bell-Rose, is working closely with James Shulman, Harriet Zuckerman, and me in commissioning new research by leading scholars on these topics and (in collaboration with other staff members) in extending some of our own work. We believe that these issues, contentious and emotional as they sometimes are, remain of critical importance to American society. John Hope Franklin may well have been right when he asserted that the problem of "the color line" will be the problem of the 21st century in the United States. – lessMore from ZoomInfo »

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Employer Reviews
Senior Accountant (Former Employee), New York, NYOctober 28, 2013

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