University of Rochester

President Extends, Boosts Support for University Humanities Fund

January 19, 2007

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman has announced that he is extending and increasing the University's commitment to the Humanities Fund for the duration of his presidency. The fund, which Seligman created in 2006, supports interdisciplinary work by Rochester faculty in philosophy, the arts, languages, and other fields.

"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.

During the current academic year, the Humanities Fund is providing $100,000 to support 10 broad projects ranging on topics from "Women and Music: Looking Forward, Looking Back" to "Law and the 'War on Terror.'" Almost 40 events, all open to the public, were scheduled starting in the fall and continuing through spring.

"I was enormously pleased by the impressive projects that began during this initial year of the Humanities Fund," said Seligman. "I believe that this fund will contribute to the strengthening and vitality of the College's wonderful humanities programs."

"The humanities are central to the life of the College," said Peter Lennie, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. Lennie will be administering The Humanities Fund. "The Humanities Fund has done much to highlight the vitality and distinction of what is happening here, and I am delighted that it will continue."

Formation of the fund spurred the launch last fall of The Humanities Project initiative (, which encompasses the 10 series of programs. Emphasizing collaboration across the disciplines, the programs involve University faculty, several institutions in the greater Rochester community, and scholars from other national and regional institutions. The individual projects were selected from proposals reviewed by a committee of department chairs in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering.

"President Seligman's ongoing commitment to fund this opportunity for intellectual exchange within and between departments will optimize a structure put into place this year and will further highlight the strengths and diversity of the University's humanities departments and programs," said Allen Topolski, chair of the Department of Art and Art History. "We will be able to build upon the projects and develop more connections between institutions."

Other projects this year include "The Nature and Pursuit of Happiness," "Visualizing the Humanities," "Lives of Performers," "Absence/Excess/Loss," "The Future of the Archive in the Digital Age," and "History and Philosophy of Physics." Two of the series, "The Transatlantic Twenties: America, Europe, and the Making of Modernism" and "Religious Transgressions of Modernity," include a related course for students during the spring.