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CNM, UNM may seek grants for humanities programs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Officials at CNM and UNM are looking closely at an announcement from the National Endowment for the Humanities about a new grant program to strengthen the teaching and study of such subjects as history, philosophy and literature at two-year institutions.

The NEH said Wednesday it wants to ensure that the more than 7 million students enrolled in two-year schools nationwide have access to high-quality humanities programs and resources.

Central New Mexico Community College spokesman Brad Moore said it is too soon to say if the state’s largest community college will seek an NEH Humanities Initiative grant, which can be as high as $100,000. An hour or so after the announcement, a dean at the school already had begun going over it, he said.

The University of New Mexico, meanwhile, operates two-year branch campuses in Grants, Los Alamos, Taos and Valencia County, as well as UNM West in Rio Rancho.

The NEH announcement quoted the agency’s chairman, William Adams, who recently wrote that while there is good reason for the nation’s focus on STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math – a college education should be about more than simply getting a job.

“Community colleges are forging citizens, many from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities in this country and beyond,” Adams said in an op-ed published in the Detroit News two weeks ago. “These institutions must be supported in their efforts to produce citizens as well as technicians. This means ensuring that they have the resources to support strong course offerings in American history, in the philosophical underpinnings of the Republic, in our political institutions and processes, and in the important social and political challenges of contemporary life.”

Projects that could be eligible for the NEH grants include the creation of new humanities minors and capstone courses, the development of humanities-based bridge programs for at-risk and nontraditional students, or initiatives to incorporate humanities education within professional training programs.

The NEH has set Aug. 24 as the deadline for applications.

Humanities Initiatives at Community Colleges is the latest NEH effort to expand humanities resources and educational opportunities available to historically underserved student populations. In the past decade, NEH has awarded more than $17.8 million in grants to support humanities programs at community colleges, historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges.

Adams closed his Detroit News piece by saying, “The leaders of community colleges and their faculty are strongly committed to the idea of the education of the whole person, and especially of citizens. But they need to hear from business leaders, educators and public officials that we share their commitment and support their efforts in this critically important ambition.

“This means that we must acknowledge that our community colleges are doing something more and more significant and complex than vocational training.”