Dr. Caroline Simon, who is interim dean for the social sciences and professor of philosophy at Hope College, has been appointed to serve as a mentor in a national program for graduate students interested in exploring the connections between Christianity and higher education and becoming teacher-scholars at a church-related school.

Simon is one of two senior scholars mentoring the fourth cohort of 16 graduate students selected for the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program of the Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and the Arts. Across three years, from the current semester through 2014, the mentors and graduate students - who are attending programs across the country--communicate and collaborate with each other in areas of research, teaching and professional development.

"The mentoring is meant to help them talk through issues about their graduate program and how to be a Christian in a constructive way in an environment where Christian voices aren't as common as they are at Christian colleges and universities," said Simon, who is co-mentoring the fourth cohort with Dr. Thomas S. Hibbs of Baylor University.

The fellows and mentors also integrate perspectives from the historic Christian faith in exploring a variety of scholarly topics. During the current fall semester, for example, Simon and Hibbs and the 16 graduate students are considering the topic of friendship. During the spring semester, they'll be discussing truth and beauty.

The Lilly Graduate Fellows Program includes four conferences across each cohort's three years of participation, as well bi-weekly online colloquia in groups of eight and bi-weekly individual phone conversations between the fellows and mentors. The second of the four conferences for the cohort that Simon is co-mentoring will take place at Hope on Saturday-Tuesday, May 26-29, with a focus on truth and beauty, and will include presentations by Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff of the Yale University philosophy faculty and poet Susanna Childress.

The graduate students selected to participate in the program as fellows are chosen competitively. The participants in the fourth cohort being mentored by Simon are in graduate programs including Baylor University; Boston College; Boston University; the Catholic University of America; Claremont Lincoln University; Columbia University; Duke University; Emory University; Princeton Theological Seminary; the University of California, Irvine; the University of Chicago Divinity School; the University of Delaware; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the University of Notre Dame; the University of Oregon; and the University of Southern California.

The third cohort, announced in the spring of 2010, includes 2010 Hope graduate Michael Bertrand, a philosophy major who is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Based at Christ College of Valparaiso University in Indiana, the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts is a national network of 96 church-related colleges and universities, and seeks to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related institutions of higher learning in the 21st century. In addition to the Graduate Fellows Program, the program's three primary initiatives include activities and publications for the network of participating institutions, and a two-year Postdoctoral Teaching Fellows Program at Valparaiso University.

Simon has been involved with the network for several years, and recently concluded a term on the organization's national board. In 1996 she directed the network's first Summer Institute for college educators, and she also led a three-year project to develop models for mentoring new faculty at Christian colleges and universities and in 2005 coordinated the Lilly conference "Academic Excellence and Christian Mission: The Chair's Role in a Both/And Approach," held at Hope.

A member of the Hope faculty since 1988, Simon specializes in ethics, with an emphasis on the use of literature in moral reflection. She is the author of "The Disciplined Heart: Love, Destiny and Imagination" and co-edited the book "Introduction to Ethics: A Reader" with Hope philosophy colleague Dr. Andrew Dell'Olio, and has published many articles on moral knowledge, virtue ethics, friendship and sexuality. She has also authored, with historian Dr. James Kennedy, "Can Hope Endure? A Historical Case Study in Christian Higher Education," was lead author of "Mentoring for Mission: Nurturing New Faculty at Church-Related Colleges," and has written numerous articles on the nature of Christian higher education.

She has served as interim dean for the social sciences at Hope since 2010, and is also the director of Hope's Teagle Systematic Improvement of Student Learning Grant and campus coordinator for the college's participation in the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education. Her previous service to the college has included leading portions of the college's faculty mentoring program; directing General Education and Interdisciplinary Studies; chairing the department of philosophy; serving for a year as acting director of women's studies and as faculty moderator; and serving as a faculty moderator on the college's Board of Trustees. In January 2007, she received the college's "Provost's Award for Service to the Academic Program."