Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminars: letters of intent due 2/6

Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminars: letters of intent due 2/6

January 6, 2012

To:       Humanities, Arts, and Social Science Faculty

From:   David Marshall, Executive Dean and Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts

                 Melvin Oliver, Dean of Social Sciences

Re:       Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminars


Important Dates:

Proposal Workshop                           Friday, January 20, 2012, 12 noon, 4315 SSMS

Letter of Intent due                           Monday, February 6, 2012

Proposal due (campus deadline)         Monday, February 13, 2012

Final Deadline (to Foundation)           Thursday, March 1, 2012

We are pleased to inform you of an exciting opportunity for our campus. UC Santa Barbara has been invited to submit proposals for the Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminars program.  Universities must be invited to submit proposals, and we are allowed to nominate one proposal only. The Sawyer Seminar program supports comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments by funding seminars that bring together faculty, visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from the humanities, social sciences, and related fields.  The Mellon Foundation, which supports a wide range of initiatives to strengthen selective research universities in the United States, with particular emphasis on the humanities and ‘humanistic’ social sciences, notes that the Sawyer program emphasizes comparative and multi-disciplinary research.

We encourage ladder faculty to submit proposals, and we especially welcome proposals that cross  departmental and disciplinary boundaries and take advantage of the interdisciplinary culture of the campus. Some successful proposals from other campuses have been affiliated with centers or institutes, thereby taking advantage of an existing infrastructure and leveraging resources.

Please review the description, terms, and application process described by the Mellon Foundation in the appended call for proposals.


The budget (which can be as high as $175,000) must include funding for a postdoctoral fellow and two graduate students at the dissertation stage. Note that Mellon specifies that “the grants may not be used for the costs of released time for regular faculty participants.” Since the Mellon Foundation plans to make awards in June, and the Foundation acknowledges that some seminars could take a year to plan, it seems likely that the seminar would take place during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Please consult with Paula Ryan, Proposal Submissions Coordinator in ISBER (, or Jude Mikal, Research Development Coordinator in the IHC (, for assistance in developing your proposal budget. They can provide details about the funding required for salaries and benefits. I am pleased to report that Graduate Division and the College of Letters and Science will provide funding for in-state graduate student tuition and fees for the two affiliated graduate students so this expense does not have to be included in the Mellon budget request.

Campus Review Process

Proposals submitted to Assistant Dean Barbara Gilkes ( on Monday, February 13th will be reviewed by a faculty advisory committee that will make recommendations to the deans.  The authors of the successful proposal will be notified of the decision by Friday, February 24th (at the latest) and will have until February 29 to revise the proposal for final submission to Mellon by Thursday, March 1. This schedule will allow adequate time for review and revision, as needed, before final submission.

Proposal Development

We have organized a proposal workshop on Friday, January 20th at 12 noon in Room 4315 of the Social Sciences and Media Studies Building.  Dr. Barbara Walker, Director of Research Development for the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Fine Arts, will provide an overview of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar Program, share a sample successful proposal, and address possible approaches to the conceptualization and writing of the proposal.  Dr. Walker ( will also be available to consult with faculty outside of this workshop.

We also strongly encourage you to consult the Mellon website to review the information that is provided about this program, including the seminars that have been funded in past years. You might find additional information on websites related to particular seminars that would be helpful. A copy of the call and seminar description from the Mellon Foundation is appended.

Submission Instructions

Please submit a one paragraph Letter of Intent to Barbara Gilkes ( by 5pm on Monday, February 6th.  This LOI will not be evaluated but it will assist us in coordinating an appropriate advisory review committee.

Proposals should be submitted electronically in Word or PDF to Barbara Gilkes ( by 5pm on Monday, February 13. Please include a letter of endorsement from Chair(s) of the department(s) of the primary seminar proposer(s). This is not meant to be a letter of recommendation.

The final successful proposal will be submitted to the Mellon Foundation by Thursday, March 1, 2012.