Maine College of Art Announces Major Support from the Davis Educational Foundation

MECA to invest in innovative methods to improve the quality, accessibility, and range of education delivery

Maine College of Art is pleased to announce that the Trustees of the Davis Educational Foundation have recently approved two separate grants to MECA for more than $125,000 related to online learning initiatives.

The first Implementation Grant provides $103,500 over two years in support of “A New Learning Initiative for Student Success,” a potentially transformative project that includes the purchase of Canvas, a robust online Learning Management System (LMS); support for faculty and students; and technological upgrades. Implementing Canvas will help provide MECA with the flexibility to deliver courses in-person, hybrid, and fully online this fall. The system can be integrated with other departments and programs. In the long-term, it will broaden the College’s reach and allow MECA to pursue additional revenue opportunities. In addition, MECA was the recipient of a newly offered and separate 2020 Davis Educational Foundation $25,000 Presidential Grant for Alternative Academic Delivery to support instructional design and faculty training for the new LMS.

President Laura Freid said, “Online learning technology has become an essential component of higher education. This funding from the Davis Educational Foundation will be key to helping MECA provide meaningful and engaging learning opportunities for our students, regardless of whether our faculty are educating them in person, remotely, or both.”

The projects reflect MECA’s commitment to further invest in online learning, which is one of five key priorities recently identified in MECA’s Strategic Plan (2020-2025). The immediate need has become accelerated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the unknown parameters of what our future teaching may encompass, the project will allow MECA to incorporate custom-designed learning experiences that have the potential to significantly improve the quality, accessibility, and range of MECA’s education delivery. It will enhance our ability to assess student success and will include a module to assist with online orientation and to help transition new students to college life and the community. Canvas has other functionalities that will support students both in and outside the classroom, such as the ability to host virtual clubs and our Visiting Artist Lecture Series, and will provide increased remote access to resources in The Joanne Waxman Library. Investing in this LMS infrastructure will help us be better prepared to seamlessly manage any further COVID-19-related disruptions as well as any future disasters.

MECA Associate Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, Araminta Matthews, is leading the project team. Matthews oversees our Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Salt Institute of Documentary Studies, and Continuing Studies programs, and possesses broad experience as a senior instructional designer.

In 2018, MECA was awarded a $2,500 grant from the Davis Education Foundation for a Level One Presidential Grant to assist in our strategic planning process, and in 2019 we received a $10,000 Level Two Presidential Grant award to further support the Strategic Plan (2020-2025).

These grants were received from the Davis Educational Foundation, which was established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis’s retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. We are extremely grateful for this support and for the Davis Educational Foundation’s commitment to strengthening the undergraduate programs of public and private, regionally accredited, baccalaureate degree-granting colleges and universities in New England.

Featured image credit: Erin Little