By: Andrew Mees, Director of College and Athletics Communications Communications@bloomfield.edu
Bloomfield College Associate Professor of English Dr. Brandon Fralix is part of a group of East Coast writing professors that has been awarded a grant of $60,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to further their research in college writing programs, the organization announced in Dec. 2014.
The funds will be used to aid in the development of an open-access database to house results for the Writing Program Administrators (WPA) Census, a survey developed by the same group of professors and launched during the 2013-2014 academic year to obtain qualitative data on programmatic offerings in writing programs at both two and four-year institutions nationwide.
“It was enlightening process because this was the first large grant that I have applied for,” said Fralix. “We ended up revising the application many, many times, so in effect applying for the grant illustrated the importance of the writing process that we all teach. Because of all the work we put into it, I was very excited when I heard the news.”
Joined by colleagues from Swarthmore College, New York University, George Mason University and the New College of Florida, Fralix administered the 200-plus-question survey to institutions around the country, receiving over 850 responses to date. Creating the open-access database will allow writing instructors to utilize a searchable database of all results, which the group hopes will lead to creating change in department structures, increased faculty positions and improved curriculum offerings for students.
“The Census is important for the field because it is an in-depth survey of a large cross section of writing instruction at institutions across the nation,” he noted. “For people who are trying to improve writing instruction on their campuses, the Census will provide them with actual data, instead of anecdotal stories, about current trends and best practices in writing instruction. And the Mellon grant allows us to share this information; without it, we would struggle to distribute it.”
Established in 1969, the Mellon Foundation supports exemplary higher education and culture institutions that provide access to groundbreaking work in the humanities and the arts. The organization makes grants in five core program areas, including arts and cultural heritage, diversity, scholarly communications, international higher education and strategic projects and higher education and scholarship in the humanities.
Earning his Ph.D. from the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies at Drew University (Madison, N.J.) in 2011, Dr. Fralix has been a full-time member of the Bloomfield College faculty since 2008, and is also the coordinator of the school’s Writing and Analysis Program.
The institution’s Division of Humanities offers four majors – English, history, philosophy and religion – in addition to minors in creative writing, English, French, Spanish, history and philosophy.
"Brandon's receipt of the Mellon Grant is indicative of the innovative work that he is doing in the field of writing,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Marion Terenzio. “His highly effective approach is critical as he facilitates students’ capacity to be good writers which reflects their ability to be good thinkers. Dr. Fralix, like so many faculty members at Bloomfield College, understands the need to push beyond the traditional boundaries of teaching in higher education.
“I am very pleased that the Mellon Foundation values and supports such work, and will allow him to expand on his teaching techniques and work with colleagues at other institutions as they together create positive change in the field of writing instruction.”
To learn more about the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, visit www.mellon.org. For more information on Bloomfield’s programmatic offerings in writing and the Division of Humanities, visit http://bloomfield.edu/academics/degrees-programs/humanities