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New York Six receives $1.25 million Mellon grant


Emily McGrail, Maura Driscoll, Deborah Kim Grinhaus and Allison Silvershein, members of the Class of 2015, atop the Yorkminster Abbey  during their term abroad in York, England last fall.
Emily McGrail, Maura Driscoll, Deborah Kim Grinhaus and Allison Silvershein, members of the Class of 2015, atop the Yorkminster Abbey during their term abroad in York, England last fall.

The New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium has been awarded a three-year, $1.25 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support new collaborations in the areas of globalization and language learning.

Union is a member of the consortium, along with Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, St. Lawrence University and Skidmore College.

The New York Six International Initiative will help schools expand the global aspects of their academic programs and engage students and faculty in the study of global issues, on campus and abroad.

One of the components,  the Upstate-Global Collective, will support teaching and learning around academic themes that have historical roots in upstate New York but that also are of current consequence worldwide, such as sustainability and human rights.

“President Ainlay has worked hard to heighten awareness of the many rich opportunities embodied in the history and cultural context that we share in this region, so we are very keen on using grant support to establish an international initiative that has its roots in upstate New York,” said Therese McCarty, the Stephen J. and Diane K. Ciesinski Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“Working together, we believe the six colleges can be strategic in the ways in which we demonstrate how our liberal arts colleges offer a diverse array of opportunities that prepare students to live in a global society.”

Another component, the Study Abroad Collaboration, will allow Union and the other five schools to share existing programs on a space-available basis.

The international experience is a key part of a Union education. Nearly 60 percent of Union students go on terms or mini-terms, one of the highest percentages among U.S. liberal arts colleges. The College offers more than 45 programs in 46 countries on 6 continents, and there are currently 27 full terms abroad. In addition, three-week mini-terms are offered during winter and summer breaks.

“This grant will allow our students to participate in unique programs in desirable locations where Union has no comparable program,” said Lara Atkins, director of International Programs.

Other components of the initiative:

• Language Learning Groups in Less-Frequently Taught Languages: Maintaining broad offerings in languages is at the heart of liberal-arts education, and the Consortium will use grant funds to test ways to pool resources for more efficient and effective delivery of language instruction.

• The New York Six International Student Community: By establishing a greater sense of community among international students across the six campuses, the Consortium seeks to enhance their experiences while enabling faculty and students to benefit more fully from the unique perspective that international students provide.

• The New York Six Connected Consortium Partnership (CCP): The CCP will build on existing and successful collaborations in information technology and the libraries to create both virtual and in-person learning communities. This will facilitate greater curricular exploration, innovative use of new technologies, and more robust teaching and research partnerships across the Consortium.

“Our members have long recognized the importance of international perspectives in the liberal-arts as preparation for virtually any career our students may pursue,” stated Amy Cronin, executive director of the New York Six. “At the same time, the schools are committed to operating in the most cost-effective manner possible, and collaboration in areas related to global education is just one example of the ways we are finding savings and efficiencies across the Consortium. The extraordinary support of the Mellon Foundation will advance our academic and operating partnerships significantly.”

Established in 2009 with the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium facilitates collaboration among its member institutions in fulfilling their educational missions and serving the public good. Through the sharing of expertise and resources, the consortium enhances options for students, faculty and staff while reducing colleges' individual and collective operating and capital costs.