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News ArticlesDr. Virginia Hart and Dr. Robert Melvin (left), as they appeared in the 1960 Mars Hill College Yearbook; and with Gwen Davis (far right) at the reception announcing the inception of the Hart-Melvin Research Fellowship.
Hart-Melvin Research Fellowship to Benefit Southern Appalachian Archives
To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of its graduation from Mars Hill College, the class of 1960 has chosen to endow an archival research fellowship, to be named for two beloved professors: retired physical education professor and coach, Dr. Virginia Hart, and retired professor of history and religion, Dr. Robert Melvin.
The Hart-Melvin Archival Research Fellowship will help fund faculty-student research teams who will investigate the rich archival collections of the Southern Appalachian Archives and develop teaching materials drawing on the resources in those collections for Mars Hill College courses.
Gwendolyn Davis, a member of the class of 1960, announced the fellowship at a program at the Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies on February 23. According to Davis, it is fitting to name the endowment for Hart and Melvin, who served as faculty sponsors for the class of 1960.
“Then, and throughout their careers, Coach Hart and Dr. Melvin were always so interested in their students,” said Davis. “They were involved, available and encouraging, the kind of professors who epitomize the best of the Mars Hill College experience.”
Members of the class of 1960 hope to contribute to fostering those meaningful faculty-student relationships which can lead to the deepest and most memorable learning experiences, Davis said.
According to Ramsey Center archivist Karen Paar, the endowment will fund release time for the faculty member, as well as costs incidental to developing teaching materials.
Funds raised for the Hart-Melvin Archival Research Fellowship will count toward fundraising goals for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant, which was awarded to the Ramsey Center in late 2006. The grant’s $500,000 federal contribution is contingent on a 3-to-1 match which the college must raise over a three year period ending August 1, 2011.
Two faculty/student research teams have already been funded under the original NEH grant. Mars Hill College history professor Phyllis Smith and history major Tyler Greene explored the Gertrude Ruskin Collection of Cherokee Artifacts for use in the Cherokee unit in the college’s Civic Life course, taken by all Mars Hill students as part of the core curriculum.
The February 23rd program at the Ramsey Center presented the findings of the second faculty/student research team, made up of Mars Hill College assistant professor of history John Gripentrog and 2009 history graduate Amanda McMahan.
Gripentrog and McMahan, together with Paar, surveyed the James G. K. McClure Farmers Federation Collection for resources to use in the United States history curriculum of the college. The collection, which contains over 3,000 black and white photographs, as well as manuscripts and publications, documents agricultural and rural life in western North Carolina from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Paar said she hopes the Hart-Melvin Research Fellowship will allow these faculty/student research teams to continue their work in the Southern Appalachian archives indefinitely. In the process, she said, the fellowship will raise campus and community awareness of the treasures contained in the Southern Appalachian Archives; strengthen the college’s commitment to undergraduate research; and promote preservation of the rich history and culture of the region.
For more information about the Hart-Melvin Research Fellowship, or to donate, please contact the Mars Hill College Office of Institutional Advancement, at 828/689-1102.