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National Endowment for the Humanities awards Willamette $450K grant

by Jennifer Johnson,

An exceptional new grant will give Willamette University students more academic opportunities, the chance to study at other institutions remotely and hasten the accessibility of a major contemporary art collection. 

Willamette recently received $450,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) American Rescue Plan grant, the largest of four allocated to Oregon institutions this year and among a select number of awards nationwide. Of 937 total applications, NEH funded only 292. 

Supported by American Rescue Plan funding, NEH provided emergency relief grants to humanities institutions and organizations adversely affected by the pandemic. 

“While the pandemic has been particularly disruptive for our students, classrooms and cultural spaces, these funds will further Willamette University’s efforts to be a leader in supporting humanities and arts education in the region,” said Provost and Senior Vice President Carol Long

The grant opens up several new opportunities at the university. Students will find more classes on Native American and Indigenous studies, environmental humanities, and communication, increased offerings in French and English, as well as more research internships at Willamette University Archives

Remote learning options have been expanded, too. Salem-based undergraduate students will be able to attend courses at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland and vice versa, but these technologies also expand opportunities for joint coursework at colleges in the Northwest Five Consortium, which includes Lewis & Clark College, Reed College or University of Puget Sound and Whitman College in Washington state. 

Another exciting benefit of these funds: PNCA’s Museum of Contemporary Craft Collection, which contains nearly 1,300 works of ceramics, clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood from 1937 to the present, can now be catalogued. Willamette inherited the collection after the merger with the college in July. 

Largely composed of mid-century ceramics, the collection was created by Oregon Ceramic Studio founder Lydia Herrick Hodge and considered among the finest in the nation. West Coast potters such as Peter Voulkos, Glen Lukens and Laura Andreson are also represented. 

The grant will ensure the collection’s cataloguing and proper storage at the X Gallery in Portland, allowing faculty and students to engage with the art until it can be exhibited at Hallie Ford Museum of Art.

Work on the Museum of Contemporary Craft cataloging will begin immediately, and new, grant-funded coursework in the College of Arts and Sciences will be available as early as spring 2022. 

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