The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in the Arts and Humanities at Hope College held its first commencement event on Tuesday, April 16.
The event recognized the first cohort of program graduates -- Athina Isabelle Alvarez of Grand Rapids, Tessa Angell of Grand Rapids, Katie Callam of Holland, Madalyn Muncy of Warren and Daniel Owens of Rocky River, Ohio.
Provost Emeritus Dr. James Boelkins and retiring Dean for the Arts and Humaniies Dr. William Reynolds were recognized for their support for the creation and development of the program. Professors Anne Heath and Natalie Dykstra were honored for their mentoring of Mellon Scholars.
According to Program Director, William Pannapacker, "Our goal was to create a three-year program of faculty-student collaborative research with an emphasis on the integration of digital technology with the traditional liberal arts. In doing so, we set out prepare our students for the highest distinctions and opportunities in academe and outside of it. With the graduation of the class of 2013 and the arrival of the class of 2016 we have achieved that goal."
Pannapacker sketched how the second phase of the Mellon Scholars program will provide even more support for collaborative research, conference participation, travel, and engagement with digital technology. A "digital scholarship fellow" has been hired by the program to support faculty and student development. The program will launch a series of large-scale, collaborative projects such as "Digital Holland" and will expand its partnerships with research universities such as Michigan State, the University of Virginia, Duke, and the University of London through the Praxis Network . The Mellon Scholars also will launch a partnership with the Philadelphia Center to combine the "Digital Liberal Arts" with experiential education in the workplace.
Last Friday, nearly 30 Mellon Scholars presented their work at the Celebration for Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance.  According to Pannapacker, "In the short span of four years—with the support of so many individuals—administrators, staff, faculty, students, and a growing list of external partners, the Mellon Scholars have become an established presence in the life of Hope College. It has brought the culture of faculty-student collaborative research to the arts and humanities, and it has made Hope College a national leader in the integration of the traditional liberal arts with new technologies that prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century".