Liberal Arts Grants Enhance Teaching, Research

Tulane University has received two grants totaling $2.05 million to further strengthen and support faculty recruitment and research in core programs of the School of Liberal Arts.

Tulane students concentrate as they listen to a professor in class. Teaching and research both will benefit from an infusion of $2.05 million in grants to the School of Liberal Arts. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Tulane $1.05 million to fund nine postdoctoral fellowships in the humanities, while the Georges Lurcy Charitable and Educational Trust has given $1 million in funding to support faculty research through education or civic engagement grants within the School of Liberal Arts.

“These two generous gifts will greatly enhance the educational and research mission of Tulane's School of Liberal Arts, which houses diverse and vital disciplines ranging from art to economics and is the bedrock of a classical education,” Tulane President Scott Cowen said.

The Mellon grants will be used to further strengthen the research and education capabilities of the humanities in the School of Liberal Arts.

The Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows, which are temporary research or teaching positions held by individuals who have completed their doctoral studies, will serve as a bridge as the departments build back to full capacity and work toward developing new or improving doctoral programs in the aftermath of Katrina, while enabling existing programs to expand course offerings.

Mellon Fellows will be assigned to one of five departments within the School of Liberal Arts: French/Italian, Spanish/Portuguese, English, History or Philosophy. Fellows will teach courses that can be cross-listed with one or more of four interdisciplinary programs: African and African Diaspora studies, Jewish studies, American studies and Asian studies. The Mellon fellows would first begin teaching in the fall 2009 semester.

“It is tremendously significant that the School of Liberal Arts has received a prestigious Mellon Foundation grant for postdoctoral fellowships in the humanities, along with a major gift from the Lurcy Foundation to support faculty research and professional development,” said Michael Bernstein, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “These resources will be of inestimable value to the school as it pursues its missions in research, art-making, teaching, and service.”

The Georges Lurcy Charitable and Educational Trust grant will be added to an existing $300,000 endowment. The annual proceeds of the combined endowment are expected to fund more than $55,000 in research grants per year.

The Georges Lurcy Charitable and Educational Trust was created in the 1960s from the sale of the massive art and antique collections of wealthy French banker Georges Lurcy.

The grants come at an exciting time for the school, which is under the new leadership of Carole Haber, who started as dean in July. The school has aggressively recruited new faculty and strengthened interdisciplinary programs during the past two years.

Haber said the latest grants are recognition of an energized and refocused School of Liberal Arts at Tulane. “I think it's a sign of confidence in the school and the quality of our departments,” Haber said. “These postdoctoral fellows will offer an invaluable resource and add depth to departments and interdisciplinary programs within the humanities.”

The School of Liberal Arts consists of 15 departments and 22 interdisciplinary programs including anthropology, art, classical studies, communication, economics, English, French and Italian, Germanic and Slavic Studies, history, music, philosophy, political science, sociology, Spanish and Portuguese and theater and dance.