In July 2006, UR President Joel Seligman announced the establishment of the Humanities Fund, whose goal is to stress the importance of the humanities at the University. The fund was created out of a three year, $1 million grant awarded to Syracuse University by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, an organization that regularly gives grants in support of humanities initiatives, in order to create a “Central New York Humanities Corridor.”

A partnership between UR, Cornell University and Syracuse University was formed to connect research in the humanities at the three universities.

Initially, President Seligman allocated $100,000 per year to the Humanities Fund. He has recently announced that he is raising the amount of money to be committed to $150,000 per year for the remainder of his presidency.

“I am pleased to announce that as long as I am President of the University of Rochester, I will commit $150,000 per year to a Humanities Fund to be administered by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering,” Seligman said in a press release on Jan. 19.

The fund led to the development of the Humanities Project, designed to advance interdisciplinary research and make the results accessible through courses and lecture series.

Peter Lennie, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering, is in charge of distributing the allocated funds. “The Humanities Fund was created to help highlight the vitality and distinction of what is happening here,” Lennie wrote in an Aug. 30, 2006 article entitled “University of Rochester Programs will Highlight the Humanities.”

He appointed a working group made up of the chairpersons of the humanities departments in order to generate project proposals that would accomplish the goal of the fund.

The group proposed the funding of 10 projects during the 2006-07 academic year. These projects include two exhibitions and four lecture series.

The first exhibition is called “Absence/Excess/Loss,” and it explores how repetition generates memory. The second is entitled “Visualizing the Humanities.”

The lecture series are: “Future of the Archive in the Digital Age,” which explores the effect of changes in digital technologies on archives, “History and Philosophy of Physics,” which focuses on quantum theory and the nature of time, “Women and Music: Looking Back, Looking Forward,” which celebrates women’s musical accomplishments and “Nature and Pursuit of Happiness,” which answers various questions about happiness.

There is also a special program of films known as “Lives of Performers,” featuring three avant-garde films from the American Underground and the Viennese Actionists of the 1960s.

Two new undergraduate-level courses, “Religious Transgressions of Modernity” and “The Transatlantic Twenties,” are also sponsored by the fund. The first course focuses on exploring the ideology of political Islam, as well as America’s role in the world.

The second course looks at modern art, music, film, dance and literature that developed as a result of various changes in both Europe and the United States during the 1920s. As part of the Humanities Project, the courses also feature guest speakers who are experts in the fields.

“I was enormously pleased by the impressive projects that began during this initial year of the Humanities Fund,” Seligman said in the Jan. 19 press release. “I believe that this fund will contribute to the strengthening and vitality of the College’s wonderful humanities programs.”

Barbosu is a member of the class of 2010.

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