VCU, VCCS receive $3.5M to continue Mellon Pathways Program, in support of students transferring to VCU - VCCS

VCU, VCCS receive $3.5M to continue Mellon Pathways Program, in support of students transferring to VCU

Home|News|VCU, VCCS receive $3.5M to continue Mellon Pathways Program, in support of students transferring to VCU


CONTACTS: Tom Myrick
Assistant director, strategic communications
VCU Office of the Provost

Jeffrey Kraus
Assistant vice chancellor for strategic communications
Virginia Community College System


RICHMOND, Va. (May 17, 2022) — Virginia Commonwealth University and the Virginia Community College System have received a $3.5 million award from the Mellon Foundation to continue the Mellon Pathways to the Arts and Humanities Program, which supports students transferring to VCU.

The award will be shared between the two institutions, with a $1,983,000 grant supporting VCCS and a $1,517,000 grant supporting VCU.

In addition to extending the Mellon Pathways Program’s funding until May 2025, these new grants will also allow the program to serve more students on the pathway to VCU and expand the program’s goals by supporting REAL (Relevant, Experiential, Applied Learning) opportunities for students once they transfer to VCU, through internships, mentorship, and undergraduate research, with a focus on career planning and readiness.

“We are excited to continue our partnership on the Mellon Pathways Program and build upon the strong history of collaboration between VCU and the Virginia Community College System,” said Deborah Noble-Triplett, Ph.D., senior vice provost for academic affairs at VCU and co-principal investigator of the grant. “This award will ensure the program remains strong and provides important continuity for our Mellon Pathways Program students as we welcome our first cohort to VCU.”

Created in March 2018 following an initial $2.3M Mellon Foundation award, the Mellon Pathways to the Arts and Humanities Program provides tailored resources to community college students at Reynolds Community College and Brightpoint Community College (formerly known as John Tyler CC). The Pathways Program reduces barriers for students in arts and humanities disciplines and prepares them for successful transition and acclimation to VCU.

The program, which welcomed its first cohort of students in August 2019, provides:

  • Enhanced, holistic advising centered on course selection, transfer logistics and financial aid.
  • Arts and humanities and career-exploration programming.
  • Community-building opportunities, and the ability for community college students to become acquainted with VCU by taking VCU coursework in their major and participating in VCU activities and events even before they transfer.
  • Career exploration and development through panels and workshops and the creation of a professional ePortfolio.
  • Access to funding and scholarships reserved specifically for students in the program, such as a stipend through participation in the Mellon Research Fellows program: a year-long research project under the mentorship of a community college faculty member and a VCU faculty connection.

In addition to the student support, the Mellon Pathways Program has also created numerous benefits for faculty at all three institutions, strengthening collaboration and curricular alignment through faculty-focused events and discipline-specific work groups.

“One of the things we learned through the Mellon Pathways Program is that faculty collaboration and intentional student learning and engagement activities facilitate the transfer experience for students,” said Sharon Morrissey, Ed.D., senior vice chancellor for academic and workforce programs at VCCS and co-principal investigator for the grant. “The continued funding will allow us to build on the retention and completion successes at the community colleges and to examine four-year outcomes, such as on-time graduation at VCU.”

The Mellon Pathways program also named Janelle K. Marshall as its new program director. No stranger to the Virginia Community College System, Marshall currently serves as the communication studies chair and an assistant professor at Brightpoint Community College.

In her nearly six years at Brightpoint, Marshall has overseen the Associate of Science in Mass Communications degree program, advised mass communication students and developed assessment measures for mass communication and general education programs, and served as the lead faculty for the school on Transfer Virginia’s mass communication program.

Within the Mellon Pathways Program, Marshall serves as a mentor for the Mellon Research Fellows program and has served on the Mellon Pathways Putting Humanities to Work Committee Member since 2020.

All told, Marshall brings more than 12 years of experience in higher education to her new role with the Mellon Pathways Program.

“Janelle is a respected and involved faculty member, advisor, and mentor for Mellon Pathways students,” said Morrissey. “We are very fortunate to have her stepping into this leadership role.”

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls nearly 30,000 students in 238 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-three of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Tappahannock Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, and MCV Physicians. The clinical enterprise includes a collaboration with Sheltering Arms Institute for physical rehabilitation services. For more, please visit and

About Virginia’s Community Colleges:

Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills, so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve approximately 250,000 students each year. For more information, please visit


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