Mellon Grant Will Fund Four Assistant Professorships

$1.4 million will enable Tufts to hire young humanities scholars whose research and teaching cross disciplines

Tufts’ commitment to addressing local and global problems with approaches that transcend disciplinary boundaries has been recognized by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with a $1.43 million grant.

The award will fund four Mellon Bridge Assistant Professorships in the humanities. They will be filled by young scholars, just beginning their careers, whose research and teaching are cross-disciplinary. These tenure-track positions are in addition to the university-wide Bridge Professorships, new faculty positions that will span disciplines, departments and perhaps even schools to advance Tufts’ teaching and research in complex issues across the humanities and sciences.

“This Mellon grant is a really exciting opportunity to focus on the humanities’ potential for interdisciplinary contributions,” says Kevin Dunn, an associate professor of English and vice provost. “By being able to hire four scholars who are already doing multidisciplinary work, we can begin to open the humanities environment to new possibilities here at Tufts.”

Dunn says the presence of these new faculty should “encourage Tufts humanists to approach their colleagues in other departments and say, ‘I have this bit of information and you have that one; how can we work together?’ ”

The grant will cover half the salary and benefits for all four professors for their first six years; the School of Arts and Sciences will cover the rest of the costs.

The Mellon Bridge Assistant Professorships bring another dimension to the Bridge Professors program, says Dunn. “In Tufts’ 10-year strategic plan, it is clear that one of our guiding principles in making teaching and research relevant to the future is developing cross-disciplinary approaches,” he says. “We can now sow the seeds in the humanities with four positions, while continuing to define and hire the additional 10 Bridge Professors who will serve the university as a whole.”

The search for two of the Mellon assistant professors is just under way. Nancy Bauer, dean of academic affairs for the School of Arts and Sciences, has sent out a request for proposals to department chairs and program directors. Those appointments will begin in fall 2015. A second search for the two additional positions will occur during the 2015–16 academic year.

Gail Bambrick can be reached at

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