Mellon Tri-College Faculty Forum Grant

Portrait of Andrew W. Mellon by Oswald Birley

Generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Tri-College Faculty Forum Grant was established to support initiatives and programs that foster collaborations between faculty at Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges. These collaborations can be in the areas of research, pedagogy, governance or service, and work/life balance. One of the primary goals of the grant is to help strengthen and broaden the intellectual pursuits of faculty in the tri-college community. Faculty Forum funding supports cross-collegiate collaboration, speculative and innovative research projects, and interdisciplinary endeavors.

  1. The New Faculty Orientation Sessions in Fall and Spring
  2. Brainstorming Grants
  3. Seed Grants
  4. Root Grants
  5. Across the Career Event

More Information

1) The New Faculty Orientation Sessions in Fall and Spring


Many challenges face new faculty members at the start of their teaching and independent research careers. Each college has established its own new faculty orientation program that includes informative discussions and workshops; however the program sponsored by the Faculty Forum Grant is unique because it brings together the new faculty from all three colleges. In the fall, new tenure track faculty members and those on 3-year full time appointments are invited to attend an afternoon workshop followed by dinner and drinks in the city. This fall meeting has several goals. First, it provides a relaxed forum for new faculty members from the three colleges to meet each other, to talk about concerns they face as the newest members of the college communities, to learn about common research interests and to help promote communication and interaction. The workshop will also address topics such as: how to source grant money; time management skills; balancing the many demands and requests that are often asked of faculty members; learning to prioritize projects; learning how to judiciously accept or defer committee work; how to connect with effective mentors including more senior colleagues within the department and within the overall college community. The workshop is followed by dinner and drinks in the city, to enable new faculty to meet their peer group.

A follow-up dinner is held in the Spring to allow the new faculty members to meet again, socialize and build on connections established from the fall meeting. It also gives the Tri-Co faculty an opportunity to discuss questions and concerns that may have arisen over the course of the academic year, particularly as they gain more experience at their home institutions.

2) Brainstorming Grants

Brainstorming grants are available to support tri-co faculty members who share common interests and wish to make an initial exploration of the potential for building a larger project. Awards range from $400-$600, and can be used for lunches, dinners or other gatherings which bring together peers from the three campuses. The goal of these gatherings is to discuss shared scholarly interests, curricular projects and program initiatives.

The Brainstorming proposal deadline is typically in early November, and notification of the successful grant awards usually follows several weeks later. The committee may also consider applications on a rolling basis: please contact the committee chair or the grant administrator, Joanne Kimpel ( for more details.

An application for a Brainstorming grant includes the following:

  1. A cover sheet
  2. A brief description of the interest group (approximately 1 page narrative)
  3. The nature of the meetings
  4. d. A tentative list of those who would attend (representatives from the three campuses is strongly desirable, two is allowable.)
  5. e. Budget allocation (Meals, reading or computer materials are covered, in addition to travel expenses, but no faculty stipends are permissible under the guidelines of the grant. Honoraria are also not expected to exceed $500)

Brainstorming Grant Prior Recipients

3) Seed Grants

The Lost Wax initiative

The Seed Grant Fellowships support longer-term innovative faculty projects related to research, teaching, curriculum, or service/governance. The grants are flexible as to the nature and scope of the initiatives funded. Projects might include: faculty working groups; topical workshops or symposia; exchanges with other liberal arts colleges or universities; invited speakers; travel for faculty training. Fellowships can be up to $3,000 per project, to reimburse expenses appropriate to the nature of the proposal such as travel, hosting events, small honoraria for outside speakers, materials and equipment, etc.

Funds can be provided for up to 3 years (first year of funding and 2 subsequent renewals) for a maximum of $9000 in financial support. If you have received a seed grant in the past, you are eligible to submit a request for a grant renewal.

Grant applications should include the following:

  1. Faculty member(s) involved in the project
  2. A description of the proposed initiative (2 pages of narrative)
  3. A detailed budget (travel expenses are permissible, but similar to the Brainstorming grants, faculty stipends are not funded.)

The Seed grant proposal deadline is typically in late March or early April, and notification of the successful proposals usually follows several weeks later.

Seed Grant Prior Recipients

4) Root Grants


Root Grants were formed to provide longer-term funding for projects that had been most successful at the Seed Grant level.

These projects will have had 3 years of Seed Grant funding, have regularly submitted their end-of-year reports on their activities to the committee, and have become a "rooted" part of Trico life. Some projects may, by this time, have used their Seed Grant success to find permanent funding from other sources, but given that the Mellon Trico Faculty Forum Fund is dedicated to supporting the kind of projects that do not easily fit the terms of other funds, we recognize that alternative funding may well be hard to find. The Root Grant is therefore designed to provide on-going funding to the projects that have proved themselves a stable source of enrichment to Trico life. This category of funding is also in recognition that pursuit of a proliferation of projects is not the aim of the committee: through a three-level funding structure (Brainstorming, Seed and Root), we hope to support faculty in identifying which ideas have genuine Trico appeal and stable participation.

Funding at the "Root Grant" level will be available up to $3000, each year, and one application will grant 2 years of funding. A report on activities should be submitted annually. The fund is renewable, upon application.

5) Across the Career Event

As faculty progress through their academic careers, different personal issues arise which can have a profound effect on their professional lives. An annual seminar is planned in the spring in which outside speakers are invited to the Tri-College community to discuss a number of different topics. Social events may also be held, to facilitate tri-co community-building.


Steering Committee Members for the Trico Forum

Chair, Rachel Buurma, Associate Professor of English, Swarthmore College

Haverford College
Lynne Butler, Professor of Mathematics

Bryn Mawr College
Rosi Song, Associate Professor of Spanish

Program Administrator,
Joanne Kimpel
Office of the Provost
Swarthmore College
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081

Grants Administrator,
Nadine Kolowrat
Corporate Foundation and Government Relations
Swarthmore College
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081