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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to support a timely national initiative that aims to integrate the work of artists and their creative practices into the culture of U.S. research universities.

The three-year grant will fund the first comprehensive guide to best practices in arts integration at research universities. The guide will present ways to assimilate artists’ unique capacities and perspectives into undergraduate and graduate teaching, high-level interdisciplinary research, and co-curricular work. Further, the guide will offer an array of suggestions to help students navigate and adopt creative processes in their own field of study.

“Every university administrator in the world is aware of the increasing demand for creative leaders,” said Theresa Reid, executive director of the University of Michigan’s ArtsEngine, recipient of the Mellon grant.  “This guide will make it easier for university faculty and administrators to support students in the development of deep creative confidence and skill.”

Directed by the deans of the visual and performing arts, architecture, engineering, and libraries, ArtsEngine is designed to integrate artists and arts practice campus-wide. ArtsEngine has produced interdisciplinary courses, a living learning community dedicated to creative process, student competitions, exhibits, performances, and creative work and research by faculty.

The U-M initiative drew a national audience and attracted participants last May when ArtsEngine hosted  “The Role of Art-Making and the Arts in the Research University.” Attended by 150 presidents, provosts, deans and other leaders from 42 top American research universities, the meeting spawned several national task forces.

To review an interim report of task force work, published in March 2012, please visit

Universities establish nationwide network

In early June, 23 Research I universities pledged $80,000 to establish a formal national communication network to support the integration of artists and arts practice throughout American research universities.

The funds will support:

  • A collaboration with the New York-based organizational consulting firm Anthony Knerr & Associates to craft a framework for a robust, sustainable national network, specifying network activities, staffing, staging of work, governance, membership, finances, and other strategic matters.
  • A collaboration with a communications firm to develop a name, brand identity and marketing materials, including a website. At this point, of St. Louis, Mo. is the leading candidate to assume the campaign.

The network proposal and name will be rolled out in Fall 2012.  The 23 founding sponsors of the network are Arizona State University, Emory University, Indiana University, Iowa State University, Johns Hopkins University, Louisiana State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Alabama, University of Colorado, University of Florida, University of Illinois, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech University, and Washington University.

For more information about ArtsEngine, please visit