The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently donated $2 million to the University’s Center for the Humanities (CHUM). The grant requires that the University raise an additional $4 million for CHUM over the next four years.
The Mellon Foundation is a philanthropic organization committed to supporting the humanities. Director of CHUM Jill Morawski petitioned for the grant over a year ago.
“Mellon could easily do as other organizations, including the federal government, and fund larger institutions and research institutions,” Morawski said. “Their choice to support Wesleyan is a reflection of both Wesleyan’s high regard in higher education and the work of President Roth to bring Wesleyan to public attention.”
Morawski explained that the money will be used to support lectures, collaborative research projects, student research projects, and scholar networks. The University’s CHUM was one of the first humanity centers founded in the United States and according to Morawski, it has been called a pioneer and a model upon which many humanities centers are based. President Michael Roth also expressed his excitement about the grant in a blog post.
“The current director, Jill Morawski, has kept the Center at the leading edge of important interdisciplinary scholarship,” he wrote. “Future projects at the Center will tie directly into pedagogy as well as research, and I’m very excited about that. The grant will also allow us to expand our reach into public life and to promote collaborative projects on and off campus.”
The Center, located at the corner of Washington Street and Pearl Street, is a meeting place for faculty members, students, and guest lecturers of the humanities.
“[CHUM] provides a locus of intellectual activity for all of us across campus to find a meeting point for the exchange of ideas and methods that then feeds back into the work that we do, from classrooms and publications to exhibitions and performances,” Associate Professor of History and Science in Society and Chair of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Jennifer Tucker wrote in an email to The Argus.
CHUM Student Fellow Alexandra Wang ’12 explained that at the Center, students and professors are able to meet and chat several times each week over tea or coffee.
“I love CHUM right now,” Wang said. “I think [the lectures are] an incredible opportunity for students to witness and engage in an entirely new level of intellectual stimulation and academia at work.”
The grant will provide CHUM with even more opportunities to engage the humanities community.
“I think it’s a fabulous opportunity for Wesleyan as well as an affirmation of Wesleyan’s leadership in higher education,” Morawski said. “It offers tremendous new support for faculty and students working in the Humanities. And it will enable new kinds of scholarly and pedagogical projects, including research groups working on collaborative projects.”