Program History

In 2009, the Mellon Foundation awarded Hope College $200,000 to launch the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in the Arts and Humanities under the directorship of Dr. William Pannapacker. In 2013, Hope College received an additional $500,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to help the program flourish.

The Mellon Scholars Program was designed to build upon Hope College’s already strong reputation of faculty-student collaborative research. A significant new component was the goal to prepare arts and humanities students for the future by infusing the would-be program with instruction in the Digital Liberal Arts.

One of the program's most distinctive features is building on the traditional methods of the liberal arts with the scholarly tools of the 21st century: social networking, collaboration, interactive scholarly interfaces and new media technologies that are often described, collectively, as the ‘digital humanities.’

—Dr. Bill Pannapacker

A three-year curriculum was developed, and in 2010 the first cohort of 20 students was shaped from a strong applicant pool. In the same year, the program’s second pillar, the close mentoring relationship between faculty and students, was developed by enlisting faculty from across the Arts and Humanities Divisions to join the program as mentors. Additionally, in 2011 the Summer Research Fellowship program came to fruition. Mellon scholars have traveled to places such as Rwanda, France, Kosovo, Spain, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia to conduct their summer research.

In 2013, Hope College received a $500,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to institute a second phase of the program and established a Mellon Digital Liberal Arts Fellow, a doctoral candidate from a major university, such as Michigan State University. One of the signature projects to launch from the second phase of the Mellon Scholars Program in 2014 was the website Digital Holland, founded by Allyson Hoffman ’15 and Erika Schlenker ’16, who won the first regional Digital Humanities award at the Network Detroit Conference. Digital Holland has become the central publication of the Mellon Scholars Program.

Currently, there are approximately 40 to 50 students in the Mellon Scholars Program, with majors in history, classics, art history, modern languages, theater, music, religion and dance. 

Mellon scholars are regular presenters at:

On a national level, Mellon scholars have presented at: 

  • The National Council for Undergraduate Research
  • The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival
  • The Michigan Academy of Arts, Science and Letters
  • Posters on the Hill
  • Network Detroit Conference

Mellon scholars have given more than 200 scholars presentations across the country.