Mellon Foundation “Merges” RIT Program

I received a communication from the Mellon Foundation today announcing that they’re “merging” the Research in Information Technology Program (RIT) with their Scholarly Communications Program, and that Ira and Chris are both leaving the Mellon Foundation. I won’t attempt to second guess why the restructuring is happening. From the email:

The Foundation is making a number of organizational changes designed to consolidate resources and concentrate them more effectively on the Foundation’s central objectives in support of its five core program areas: the liberal arts and humanistic scholarship in higher education, scholarly communications, museums and art conservation, performing arts, and conservation and the environment. As part of these changes, the Research in Information Technology Program (RIT) will be merged into the Scholarly Communications program and cease to exist as a standalone grantmaking program of the Mellon Foundation, effective January 4, 2010. The Scholarly Communications program, which will be renamed so as to indicate, explicitly, that technology-based grantmaking is part of its mandate, will assume responsibility for managing existing RIT grants and the planning of future grant initiatives that emphasize the development of information technologies in support of the Foundation’s core focus. As this merger occurs, my colleagues, Ira Fuchs, who founded the RIT program at the Foundation in 2000, and Christopher Mackie, will both be leaving the Foundation.

The RIT Program at Mellon has been a major funder of open source / open education projects we know and care about, like Zotero, Sakai, Kuali, and Folksemantic. When Hewlett funded content development in open education, Mellon funded software development for open education. Their combined efforts have had a huge, positive impact on the field. With Mike and Cathy both leaving Hewlett last year, and now Ira and Chris leaving Mellon, the field really feels like it’s in transition…

A hearty “God bless” to Ira and Chris as they set out on new adventures.

2 thoughts on “Mellon Foundation “Merges” RIT Program”

  1. This is big news–but the Scholarly Communications Program has also made big investments in technology development and research. Though these investments didn’t necessarily impact the OER community, the Fedora project, co-developed by Cornell & Virginia has a huge reach.

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