Black and Latino studies department gets $150,000 Mellon Foundation grant


The Weissman Newsletter | Baruch College

Karina Ordonez

Baruch College has been awarded a grant of $150,000 from the Mellon Foundation for the expansion of the Black and Latino Studies Department under the leadership of Shelly Eversley, Interim Chair and Professor of English.

The Black and Latino studies program became an official major this fall, after being part of the intellectual community at Baruch since the 1970s. This grant will allow the program to continue expanding.

The grant, which is entitled, Black and Latinx Publics, will go to support community-engaged teaching and research for the BLS major. The money will train staff in ways to encourage students to create projects that will explicitly connect classrooms and the communities they serve. It will also work to support faculty whose scholarly work speaks directly to racial and social justice issues.

“Ever since we started drafting the new BLS major, earning the support of Mellon was a goal,” Professor Eversley said in an interview to The Weissman Newsletter. “The Mellon foundation has played a critical role in supporting the humanities across all kinds of institutions, and its unequivocal commitment to the role of the humanities in supporting racial and social justice reflects the values of our program.”

The Andrew W. Mellon foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. It has been spreading the message that the arts and humanities are essential to human understanding since its founding in 1969. The foundation makes grants in four core program areas: Arts and Culture, Higher Learning, Humanities in Place and Public Knowledge.

This grant comes in the wake of a large censorship scandal happening for many universities in other parts of America. Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration blocked the introduction of AP African American Studies. In addition, in a letter to the College Board sent in early January, the state Education Department’s Office of Articulation said that “in its current form”, the “course lacks educational value and is contrary to Florida law.”

“It is so important to us,” Professor Eversley continued, “not only because this Mellon Officer grant recognizes the value of Black and Latino studies in higher education, but also because our present moment demands it. Public universities like ours have a critical role in sustaining equitable futures that must include us all.”