Southwestern University has received a $160,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to work with faculty members from Dillard University as they prepare to reopen in January 2006. Dillard is an historically black college in New Orleans that was severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

About a dozen faculty members from Dillard will use technology available at Southwestern to recreate course materials lost in the disaster and develop new online courses that can be offered to students regardless of their location. The faculty members are expected to arrive by Nov. 30 and stay through mid-December.

Southwestern is home to a technology center sponsored by the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE), which provides selective liberal arts colleges across the country with programs and services in instructional technology.

The NITLE Technology Center at Southwestern, which serves 16 colleges across the south, has 20 advanced computer workstations. NITLE staff members at Southwestern have extensive expertise helping faculty prepare digital materials for use in undergraduate teaching. The Associated Colleges of the South uses the center’s course delivery system technology to support its “Virtual Classics” program.

NITLE’s staff trainers will work with Dillard faculty members to develop digital materials and online curricula in the disciplines and courses of greatest interest and need. NITLE also will provide server space for materials developed in the program.

Southwestern University will coordinate the program and will host the participating Dillard faculty members as Brown Visiting Scholars. The Dillard faculty members will have access to a variety of resources at Southwestern, including library facilities, meeting spaces to work together as a group, and structured and informal opportunities for networking and collaborating with disciplinary colleagues on Southwestern’s faculty. They also will receive stipends and per diem support.

“Reconstructing lost resources will be a long and arduous process that will not be completed quickly, but the concrete goal of creating digital approaches and resources to replace lost materials and meet immediate needs can provide an entry point and momentum for the process,” said Dillard Provost Bettye Parker-Smith.

The grant from the Mellon Foundation will provide transportation for Dillard faculty members to get to Southwestern, local transportation while they are in Georgetown, and housing in residence hotels for the time spent in Georgetown. “This program will enable Dillard University, one of our nation’s premier and historic African American-serving institutions, to continue its mission to students in a time of great adversity,” said Southwestern University President Jake Schrum. “It also will allow Southwestern’s faculty and students to collaborate academically with their colleagues from Dillard and for NITLE to use its technological resources in innovative ways that may set useful precedents for the future.”

Southwestern University had already formed a partnership with Dillard University before Hurricane Katrina hit. In August, the Mellon Foundation gave Southwestern $100,000 to support a collaborative leadership and student exchange project between itself, Dillard, Huston-Tillotson University, Morehouse College and Rhodes College.


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