Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute are partnering thanks to a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation to enhance collaboration between select liberal-arts colleges and their neighboring military institutions of higher education.
The overall goal of the project, funded through the Mellon Foundation's Liberal Arts College Program, is to build on existing shared programming and find new opportunities for long-term collaborations.
As the first event in the partnership, VMI cadets and W&L students together will attend a special dinner with a guest speaker on the eve of VMI's 2013 Honor Conference, on March 4 and 5. The dinner also will include students from other military academies and programs (the Citadel, the United States Naval Academy and Texas A&M University ROTC), along with civilian students (from the University of Virginia, Haverford College and the University of Mary Washington) who are participating in the two-day conference.
"This is a natural project for collaboration as we begin to take advantage of the opportunities that the Mellon Foundation grant will offer," said Suzanne Keen, interim dean of the College at W&L. "The event exemplifies both the existing collaboration between our two institutions on matters of mutual concern, and shows the potential for involving others in conversation about shared values of civilian and military students."
The Mellon grant adds an event that is meaningful to the organizers of the Honor Conference.
“The collaboration between VMI cadets and the Washington and Lee students is what is making this Honor Conference so beneficial to schools wanting to establish workable honor systems,” said Capt. Susan Rabern, director of VMI’s Center for Leadership and Ethics. “The Mellon grant is truly a validation for the students and cadets who are partnering to pull this conference together that they are working in an important and productive direction.”
In addition to W&L and VMI, the other partnerships under the Mellon grant are Dickinson College and the U.S. Army War College; Bard, Union and Vassar colleges and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; St. John's College (Md.) and the U.S. Naval Academy; and Colorado College and the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Keen noted that there have long been, and will continue to be, many informal collaborations between the neighboring institutions. The Mellon grant is a way to make new connections and to explore enhancing existing links between the institutions.
"Among several stated goals for the project is the desire to identify and implement shared activities that will expand resources and enhance programs," said Keen. "This is a very natural way to us to move forward."
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs