Willamette University is the recipient of a $299,766 National Endowment for the Humanities Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (NEH CARES) grant.
The funding will support humanities programming and classes in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Mark O. Hatfield Library and Willamette Integrated Technology Services (WITS).
The CAS will use the funding to retain crucial instructional capacity in order to offer classes in multiple languages, literatures, and civic communication and media that otherwise would have gone unstaffed. Roughly 200 students will be directly served in these courses, but many more will benefit from the additional funding for supporting reference librarians who ensure that the library’s services are available in and responsive to a variety of teaching environments.
"The humanities are vital to our students' education, and to the development of a more nuanced understanding of our place in the world," said Ruth Feingold, CAS dean. "The professors, librarians, and museum curators supported by this grant will have an impact on Willamette and the surrounding community that will last long past the fall semester."
The award will also fund WITS' acquisition of essential technology required to offer remote, in-person, and hybrid learning.
"The classroom technology that this grant helps us purchase will enable social distancing in our classrooms, make it possible for students who are immunocompromised or in quarantine to attend lectures and discussions remotely, and provide more accessible class materials to all students even post-Covid," said Jackie Barretta, Willamette vice president and chief information officer.
John Olbrantz, the Maribeth Collins director of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, said, "The grant is about keeping our core staff intact and making our collections, exhibitions and programs accessible in ways that we might have only imagined a few months ago."
NEH CARES funds will allow the museum to make its permanent galleries accessible to a global audience through the development and implementation of virtual tours of the Mark and Janeth Sponenburgh, Carl Hall, and Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde galleries. Museum staff will create virtual tours, lectures and performances for its upcoming Works Progress Administration (WPA) exhibition, "Forgotten Stories: Northwest Public Art in the 1930s."
The NEH CARES grant program was established in April 2020 to distribute CARES Act funding for the support and preservation of humanities activities and jobs affected by the coronavirus pandemic in education, public programming, scholarly research, digital humanities, and preservation and access. Out of 2,333 eligible applications, NEH funded roughly 300 organizations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.