I am writing to give you an update on the Humanities Center and the steps being taken based on the Tabb Committee report.
As noted in my January 12, 2017 cover letter that accompanied release of the Tabb Report, reassurance was provided that departmental closure will not be considered. Indeed, I am committed to a strong and flourishing department.
Since the release of the Tabb Report, I have consulted with the Humanities Center faculty, the Homewood Academic Council, and a number of other colleagues as we chart the path forward for the future of the Humanities Center. These consultations have begun to clarify this path forward. Among the three options suggested by the Tabb Committee, we will adhere most closely to the second option. This means that we will retain the Humanities Center as a department. Over the next months its identity and foci will be considered and defined by the faculty and an Advisory Board, whose formation was suggested by the Tabb Committee. To move the department forward along this path, we have identified several interwoven priorities or goals that will need to be addressed:
- Plan an open rank search in Fall 2017 for a new faculty member, who might also be a future department chair;
- Define the department’s foci;
- Begin the process of determining a new name for the department;
- Establish an undergraduate curriculum, possibly first focusing on a minor.
In order to accomplish these priorities in a collegial and consultative fashion, the following structures are being established: first, I am constituting an interim Advisory Board to work with the departmental faculty in deliberating and making decisions about these priorities; and second, I am appointing an interim Department Chair to support faculty and students administratively as the department works through these priorities and its structures go through a period of transition.
I am grateful to Professor Gabrielle Spiegel for agreeing to serve as chair of the interim Advisory Board (the other members of the Advisory Board will be announced soon), and to Professor Betsy Bryan for agreeing to serve as interim chair of the Humanities Center Department. They will begin to serve in these roles on March 1, 2017, and I know they will be grateful for the support and input of our humanities community to ensure the best future for the department.
I must also thank Professor Hent de Vries for his dedicated, tireless and passionate work on behalf of the Humanities Center. He served as Director of the Humanities Center for two full three-year terms, and then graciously delayed a well-deserved leave during the current academic year to continue as Director for an additional interim period. His world-renowned expertise, his successful efforts as a convener of numerous events, and his contributions to the community of humanists are all deeply appreciated.
Periodic updates will be provided as warranted.