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STANFORD -- Anonymous donors have made a $1 million gift to create a 10-year-term endowment to support junior faculty in the humanities, President Gerhard Casper announced at the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday, Oct. 27.
The gift will establish the Dean's Fellows in the Humanities, a program that will provide Stanford's most promising junior faculty in the humanities with one year off to prepare scholarly work for their tenure reviews.
All junior faculty in tenure-line humanities positions will be considered for the award at the time of re-appointment, and as many as three awards will be made each year.
The program is similar in spirit to the Terman Fellows program, established last year with a gift from William Hewlett and David Packard to support young faculty in the sciences and engineering.
That gift prompted the anonymous donors to open discussions with Provost Condoleezza Rice and John Shoven, dean of humanities and sciences, about new ways to support junior faculty in the humanities, Casper said.
"This gift will support the university's general commitment to increase support for junior faculty," Casper told the senate.
Fellows will benefit from the award in two ways - each will receive a $5,000 research account, and a grant equivalent to one-half of their annual salary and benefits, to be combined with outside funding or accrued and borrowed sabbatical credit, to create a year of paid leave. Fellows will have a two-year window in which to exercise the award, and can use the award in any manner they choose.
Shoven will be responsible for the selection process, and plans to announce the fellows by the end of the winter quarter each year.
Roughly 200 of the 450 faculty in humanities and sciences are in the humanities, said associate dean John Etchemendy. The donation, he said, would enable roughly half the assistant professors in the humanities to spend a year as a Dean's Fellow.
Their research topics, Etchemendy said, could range from archival work on medieval Italian literature to original musical composition to work in computational linguistics to Latin American economic history.
Casper announced the gift during his response to a question from Robert Polhemus, professor of English, who asked the president to comment on the Oct. 11 announcement of plans to complete the new science and engineering quadrangle.
Polhemus asked whether that project, also made possible by a gift from Hewlett and Packard, "makes a difference for the better of all of Stanford . . . even those whose interests are mainly in the social sciences and the humanities."
"Physical appearances can be very misleading," Casper said. "And just because some parts of the university need substantial laboratories does not suggest that those parts of the university that are less visible are marginal."
The president also noted that Stanford "should really be the university in the country that, more than any other, tries to explore relationships between the humanities and the social sciences and the sciences."
Casper said that not only does the new program reaffirm Stanford's commitment to the humanities, "but it also is in direct response to the fact that some good soul out there, with some assistance from us, saw what was being done for the sciences and said, 'I should like to make a contribution to establish something . . . for the humanities.'"
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