Mellon Foundation Supports Writing Skill Development With $500K Grant to N.C. A&T


EAST GREENSBORO – (March 1, 2019) – To support the expansion of the university’s writing center and writing-intensive courses throughout the university curriculum, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The three-and-a-half-year grant, awarded to the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, is the first the university has received from the Mellon Foundation. In addition, it is the first major award designated for North Carolina A&T arts and humanities programs.

“The Mellon Foundation Grant responds to some of the needs and challenges our academic enterprise has faced for several years,” said Provost Beryl McEwen. “Our ability to expand the writing center, and associated programs, will facilitate greater student success at all levels and strengthen the foundation for a more successful entrance into the workforce.”

The university’s continued focus on student retention and persistence rates, as well as a revision of general education requirements and curriculum guides, have necessitated an increased emphasis on writing, as well as math. The Mellon grant will support the success of the proposed “Enhancing Writing Proficiency across the Curriculum” initiative.

The initiative seamlessly fits into the university’s five-year strategic plan around the goals and objectives for “excellence in teaching, research and student success.” The grant will enhance faculty members’ course delivery through writing instruction and writing to learn strategies, expand undergraduate research agendas to include efficacy studies of writing in disciplines and incorporate writing instruction to prepare students for success in advanced study and professional performance.

“Developing writing skills is more important now than ever, both for the success of our students during their undergraduate experience and for their long-term success beyond the university,” said Frances Ward-Johnson, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and principal investigator on the grant. “We are grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s attention to this need and look forward to the benefits of the foundation’s support.”

According to the proposal, the funding will facilitate the following six objectives:

  • Expand the writing center staff by adding an assistant director and doubling the number of trained tutors
  • Integrate a Faculty Writing Fellows program and Writing Across the Curriculum program to reach diverse majors on campus and online
  • Implement a Summer Bridge program for needs-based admitted students as a way to strengthen students’ writing skills in preparation for the challenges of first-year college writing courses
  • Offer more writing workshops and seminars to students on topics such as grammatical accuracy and content development
  • Offer more undergraduate research opportunities for professors and students in the area of composition and rhetoric
  • Allow faculty to attend writing conferences to engage with experts, share knowledge about N.C. A&T’s program and discuss benefits and challenges of Writing Across the Curriculum programs

Ultimately, the grant will assist the university in establishing a model of Writing Across the Curriculum with sustained resources and dedication to preparing students for transition into advanced study or into the workplace through intentional, longitudinal writing instruction, supported by a preeminent University Writing Center.