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Mellon Foundation grant advances CHERI research

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $640,000 research grant to the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute (CHERI).

The three-year grant continues Mellon support for research on trends for academic humanities; the implications of further cutbacks in state support for public institutions; and how to increase racial and ethnic balance of higher education faculty.

For African-Americans and Hispanics, the road to a doctoral degree and a college-level teaching position appears to begin at home, said CHERI Director Ronald G. Ehrenberg, the Irving M. Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics. Decisions about potential college majors and career paths are conditioned by socioeconomic factors such as parents' education and occupations and family income levels.

"I want to study how these variables influence Ph.D.-going behavior and the decisions by new Ph.D.s to enter academic careers," Ehrenberg said. "Underrepresentation of people of color in faculty positions is largely due to their underrepresentation in the Ph.D. student population."

The Mellon grant will expand research in areas including analysis of factors contributing to the shortage of faculty of color in higher education; the impact of staffing patterns on humanities departments; and the impact of undergraduate curriculum structure on student propensity to pursue doctoral study in the humanities.

Mary Catt is assistant director of communications for the ILR School.

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