Earlier this summer, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the College of William and Mary a $900,000 grant to help aid the College’s transition to a new core curriculum. While the new COLL curriculum will be implemented beginning with the freshman class of 2015, the Class of 2018 enters the College as the last to enroll in the current GER system. As such, they will be able to partake in pilot courses designed to test the waters for the new curriculum.
As of February, the new COLL curriculum was projected to cost $1.1 million in its first four years, and an extra $700,000 annually after that. William and Mary News reported that, while the Mellon grant will be used primarily to implement the COLL curriculum, funding will also be put toward smoothing the transition as current students complete their studies under the GER system. The money will also be used to support faculty who are currently developing COLL courses, and will help fund the new Center for the Liberal Arts at the College.
The grant demonstrates support for the College in its Strategic Plan’s stated mission to progress from a distinguished past toward a future where it works to improve upon its standards. In 2013, U.S. News and World Report placed the College 32nd in its ranking of American universities. According to the College’s Strategic Plan for years 2015-2019, the College ranks 114th in financial resources, marking a gap of 82 places between its financial sustenance and actual rank. This discrepancy is larger than any other leading university in the country and demonstrates the College’s ability to maintain its high educational standards with tighter financials. In 2014, the Virginia General Assembly provided less than 13 percent of the College’s funding from the state.
The College will offset some of these cuts to funding through the William & Mary Promise, which will increase tuition for incoming students over the course of three years, though holding tuition to the rate of inflation for the students’ undergraduate careers. As a result, however, the College will be able to offer more grant aid to students, increase class sizes by 150 students, and increase faculty pay from the 14th percentile of their academic group to a more competitive 60th percentile, according to the College’s Strategic Plan.
Dean of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences Kate Conley expressed her appreciation for the Mellon grant, as well as for the faculty’s involvement with the curriculum review. The review began in the 2008-09 school year when the College’s strategic planning process called for a faculty review of the general education curriculum.
“Part of the purpose of a curriculum review is to engage the faculty in a sustained discussion of the purposes of the liberal arts and how best to contribute our individual expertise into an integrated whole for the students,” Conley said in a press release. “I’m delighted with the many ways our faculty have embraced this opportunity. This substantial support from the Mellon Foundation matches our own high level of energy and engagement.”
Flat Hat Managing Editor Abby Boyle contributed to this article.