Why the new Imagine Fund is critical
By Deane Morrison
The University's new Imagine Arts Fund will help faculty in the arts, humanities, and design fields.
September 26, 2008
In 1976 Eileen Zeitz found herself in Argentina when the military ousted President Isabel Per?n and installed a military junta. It was particularly hard for Zeitz because she knew several Argentine newspaper reporters, whose profession put them at high risk of being kidnapped and murdered by the junta and joining the ranks of "the disappeared." "It was appalling," says Zeitz, now a Spanish professor at UMD. "I became a poet and short-story writer in Spanish to give a voice to the disappeared." She now has produced three books of poetry and a collection of short stories, but only because she was able to travel to Argentina in the first place. Finding the means to travel is among several financial obstacles for faculty in the arts, humanities, or design. But this fall the University of Minnesota is reshaping the landscape with the new "Imagine Fund," a $1.3 million systemwide initiative to support faculty in those fields regardless of rank or tenure status.
The art of funding
The Imagine Fund was created from a major McKnight Foundation gift, with added support from funds within the Graduate School and Office of the Vice President for Research. Money for endowed chairs was provided by the Permanent University Fund, a public endowment derived from sources such as state iron ore taxes, royalties, and federal land grants. For more, see the news release.
"Humanities are what allows people to be strong critical thinkers and helps them understand [interpersonal] differences and overcome them."Art history professor Gabriel Weisberg says the new initiative can only help the status of the arts and humanities, whose meager research budgets have cast them in the role of "a poor stepchild" within academia. Travel money is especially tight, and faculty in these fields have a much smaller range of external resources available to them than, say, those in many sciences and engineering. "Arts and humanities research is not very strongly supported in the United States," Weisberg says. But at the same time, "it's almost impossible for foreigners to get money to do research in Europe. It's almost unheard-of."
Don't pass this up
If you're a University of Minnesota student and want to explore the arts, check out the new Arts Pass. Through May 16, 2009, you can get passes to six shows on campus for $50. Find out what shows are included and how to get a pass by visiting the Arts Pass Web site.
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Last modified on March 9, 2009