The Brown University Graduate School has received a $571,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue a program that supports graduate students during the writing of their dissertations.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Graduate School at Brown University has received a $571,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to extend its Mellon Graduate Workshops program for doctoral students. Established by a $250,000 grant in 2003, the workshops support graduate students in the humanities and social sciences who are in the process of writing their dissertations.

The new six-year Mellon Foundation grant will fund the activities of four dissertation groups per academic year. Each group will consist of graduate students and a faculty sponsor and will be organized around a theme or issue. Groups will meet regularly in workshops and invite visiting scholars to present research during the year.

“This grant provides intellectual opportunities and support for our doctoral students at a critical stage,” says Sheila Bonde, dean of the Graduate School and professor of archaeology and the history of art and architecture. “Writing the dissertation can be lonely and inward-looking, even when it really should be about making connections and drawing disparate worlds together.”

Bonde also sees the workshops as a mechanism for enhancing the completion of doctoral degrees. Students in the humanities and social sciences typically require six to seven years to finish the Ph.D. Part of Bonde’s case to Mellon for renewing the grant was to give the Graduate School an opportunity to study Brown’s effectiveness in aiding students to complete. The Graduate School is well positioned to accomplish this study with the Mellon grant and with its successful bid to join – in May 2007 – the Ph.D. Completion Project, a national initiative to increase completion rates in doctoral programs. The project is run by the Council of Graduate Schools and involves 22 universities across the nation.

Brown’s Graduate School has flourished under President Ruth J. Simmons’ Plan for Academic Enrichment. Since 2001, the number of applications to Brown’s advanced-degree programs has more than doubled to 7,150 in 2008. All incoming doctoral students are now guaranteed five years of full financial support and health insurance, and 12 new degree programs have been launched through internal initiatives and new partnerships with external institutions and organizations. Brown currently enrolls more than 1,740 full-time graduate students.