U College of Humanities Receives $500,000 Donation, Makes Plans to Grow


(Courtesy of the College of Humanities)

By Devin Oldroyd, News Writer


In early August 2021, the College of Humanities received a $500,000 donation from the ESRR Humanities/Arts Endowment Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation. The donation will continue annually with no expiration date. 

“Seeing this incredible gift come to fruition has been the highlight of my advancement career so far,” said Lexie Kite, director of advancement at the College of Humanities. “These generous donors have committed to the College of Humanities in the most profound of ways. The impact of this gift — given each year in perpetuity — is hard to fathom. I look forward to seeing the ways our students, faculty and broader campus are supported by these new opportunities made possible by the ESRR Humanities/Arts Endowment Fund.”

According to Dean of the College of Humanities Stuart Culver, this donation will be put towards the college’s effort in hiring a professor for the ESRR Chair in English.

The English department is currently searching for a medieval or early modern professor to fill this position.

“Needless to say, this is a big and very welcome post-pandemic surprise,” said Scott Black, chair of the Department of English, in a press release. “Our department is honored to establish this prestigious presidential chair in literary history.”

Culver said the donation will help create an endowment large enough to cover a professor’s salary and their research needs. Additionally, it will help increase graduate student stipends.

“[Working in] humanities, when it comes to dollars and cents, we do not have the big-ticket items that, say, engineering, the sciences or the medical school might have,” Culver said. “We do not have to buy all that heavy equipment or need the large staff to maintain it. So the money for us goes directly into [our] people.”

The donation will also help fund a new creative writing residency program.

“The creative writing residency in the department of English will allow us to establish a six-week residency for prestigious writers from underrepresented backgrounds,” Kite said. “The writer in residency will mentor our students, work with our faculty [and] provide a public talk or reading.”

Many people within the College of Humanities are appreciative of this donation’s focus on the Department of English.

“This [donation] gives us a kind of shot in the arm,” Culver said. “In a way, [it gives] a calling [of] attention to what is going on in one of our stronger departments.”

The donation was submitted through the Chicago Community Foundation as the donors wish to be kept anonymous.

“Just in terms of recognizing that the donors prefer to remain anonymous, I think is [noteworthy] in and of itself,” Culver said. “In a way, it is just as interesting and intriguing as if it were Fred and Ethel Mertz. It is significant how they think about doing their charitable work, and then delivering it to people [while] remaining anonymous behind foundations and things of that sort.” 

The College of Humanities has received several donations in the past, but this donation is the first of its caliber for the college.

“We have [previously] received one-time gifts of this size, but never a gift of this size that will be given each year,” said Kite. “At $500,000 per year for countless years to come, this gift is the most impactful we have ever received.”


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