Feature Story

Mellon Foundation Funding

March 26, 2015 – by Spenser Hickey ’15

OWU and the Ohio Five receive $2 Million Grant for Foreign Language Program

The Five Colleges of Ohio – a consortium that includes Ohio Wesleyan University – has received a $2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to add foreign language faculty through a post-doctorate fellow program.

The grant, “Language Enrichment and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program,” establishes a program to provide 10 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows in the Languages from The Ohio State University with two-year appointments at each the Ohio Five liberal arts colleges.

The grant also enables faculty members at the schools “to build productive and collegial relationships by engaging in professional development and collaborative work involving both teaching and scholarship,” according to the Ohio Five. In addition to Ohio Wesleyan, the consortium includes Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, and The College of Wooster.

“It is amazing to know that it is already materializing,” said Professor Juan Armando Rojas Joo, chair of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages at Ohio Wesleyan. “The first time I heard about the beginnings of the … amazing possibility was probably four or five years ago when administrators of the Five Colleges were first talking about it.”

Rojas said the program will allow OWU professors to mentor the new faculty members, helping them to fully develop their teaching style and adapt to a liberal arts environment.

“What this really means is the post-doc has two years to prepare himself or herself for the profession,” said Rojas, a former post-doctorate fellow at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Immediately after finishing the Amherst program, Rojas was hired by Ohio Wesleyan, where the only additional work he needed to do was adapt to OWU’s culture.

“When you’re a post-doc, you have two years to be ready for the job market, two years to prepare your scholarship, your research, two years to integrate into the academia,” he said.

OWU’s first Mellon post-doctorate fellow will be a familiar face – part-time professor Douglas Bush, who taught beginner-level Spanish for three semesters from fall 2014 to fall 2015.

“I’m not (at OWU) this semester, and I miss it terribly,” Bush said. “I really enjoy the atmosphere at OWU, where so many people are interconnected in ways that you don’t expect.”

Bush earned his doctorate in 2013 from Ohio State, where he focused on Mexico’s literature, society, and culture in the 20th and 21st centuries – particularly impacts of modernization and Latina/o Studies.

“I would really love to do a class in Latina/o Studies,” he said. “Not just in terms of literature, but also television, movies, media, and other areas. I would also like to bring in speakers in Latina/o Studies if possible. I feel that students really benefit from having this connection to not only names in the field, but also to authors and other producers.”

Junior John Wainwright, a Spanish major, said he welcomes the additional opportunities created by the Mellon grant.

“I think another professor would definitely allow more freedom in terms of classes offered,” said Wainwright, who will be studying in Salamanca next fall but hopes to take one of Bush’s courses in the spring.

Wainwright said he’s also particularly interested in Bush’s efforts to provide more extracurricular activities, including speakers.