Claflin University Receives $30,000 UNCF/Mellon Faculty Teaching and Learning Grant

May 27, 2015

Claflin University announces the receipt of a $30,000 Teaching and Learning Institute Grant from the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Mellon Foundation. The award will be used for a three-day institute at Clafin on June 1- 3, that includes an interdisciplinary group of scholars from other UNCF institutions. The purpose of the institute is to prepare students at HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) for global leadership through their engagement with world literature and culture.

Dr. Belinda Wheeler, assistant professor of English in the Department of English and Foreign Language at Claflin, will serve as the facilitator and coordinator of the project, titled “Preparing Global Leaders by Enhancing Student Engagement with World Literature and Culture.” Other Claflin University professors who will serve as co-facilitators for the institute are Dr. Mitali Wong and Dr. Peggy Ratliff.  Both are professors in the Claflin Department of English and Foreign Language.

The institute will include sessions that will offer information on diverse cultures from around the world.  Dr.Wong will lead the session on Indian and South Asian literature and Dr. Wheeler will facilitate the session on indigenous literature in Australia and New Zealand.   Dr. Ratliff will facilitate the discussion on Caribbean and African- American literature.

In addition to lectures, reading circles and discussions, participants will review materials and information provided prior to the institute. Participants will also work in groups to create or revise existing course descriptions, syllabi, and assignments at their respective institutions.

At the end of the institute, participants will report on the materials they created specifically for their classroom. Within two weeks after participating in the institute, all participants will email

new or updated course descriptions, syllabi, lesson plans, and assignments to the Claflin University coordinators.  This information will be displayed on a designated webpage that will be accessible to all faculty from participating UNCF member institutions.

“We believe this grant will strengthen teaching and learning activities for Claflin University and other participating UNCF institutions,” said Dr. Cynthia Neal Spence, director of the UNCF/Mellon Programs.  “The focus of the Institute is quite relevant and significant as it is imperative that we foster global learning by providing our students with global curricular offerings and experiences. I am certain that participants in the Institute will benefit greatly from the selected consultants and from exchanging best practices as they learn from each other.” 

For more information, contact Dr. Belinda Wheeler at (803) 535-5717 or email to

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