Established in 1988 with a grant from the Ford Foundation, the Ford Scholars Program at Vassar College fosters student and faculty collaboration on research projects in the humanities and social sciences. The program encourages intensive academic mentoring relationships between faculty and undergraduate students, toward students imagining future lives in the professoriate. Faculty mentors propose and mentor projects that include significant student participation, feedback, and initiative. Students join faculty in rigorous scholarship, course preparation and teaching-related research. Over the years, the energy and dedication of students and faculty have made this a strong program, and the Ford projects receive far more student applicants than can be accommodated. Ford’s success is reflected in the many student participants who have gone on to earn advanced degrees in the humanities and social sciences. Its impact can also be seen in the many Vassar courses whose content and structure have been transformed and strengthened by these imaginative projects.
While the original Ford Foundation grant has long been expended, the program continues thanks to the generosity of private donors. We fund approximately eighteen projects every year across the humanities and social sciences. Along with Alexandra Hoffman, Administrative Assistant to the Ford Scholars Program, and Baynard Bailey, Academic Computing Consultant, we aim to foster a rich intellectual tradition of faculty-student engagement through research.