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In Funding and Scholarship, New UC Humanities House Joins a National Class

Humanities research at the University of Cincinnati is graduating to a new tier with the opening of new facilities to support advanced scholarship in core humanities and related disciplines of sociology, political science, economics and math.  With the Sept. 14, 2005, opening of the Taft House at Stratford Heights, UC’s humanities research center becomes one of the best funded in the entire nation.

Date: 9/13/2005 12:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Lisa Ventre

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The Sept. 14, 2005, opening of two new facilities by the University of Cincinnati – the Taft House at Stratford Heights on Clifton Ave. and the Taft Fellows Office Suite in French Hall – places UC in a new national class in terms of center-based scholarship and research of humanities and related social sciences.

Philosophy student Viorel Paslaru, German Studies student Alexandra Hagen and criminology student Yan Cui will all live in the Taft House at Stratford Heights. They stand next to a mantle that was once in the Taft home which is now the Taft Museum.

The opening of the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center operating the Taft Fellows Office Suite and Taft House, a residence and meeting space for students and visiting scholars, is the result of a substantial increase in program funding by the Charles Phelps Taft Memorial Fund and by the university itself. 

The Taft Memorial Fund trustees, chaired by Dudley Taft, increased the annual support for UC humanities scholarship to $1.26 million in order to bring campus research efforts to a new level.  It represents a single-year increase of 17 percent and is very significant in terms of national norms.  In collaboration with the fund trustees, the university increased its annual support for humanities research five fold, bringing total current support for humanities scholarship at UC to about $1.41 million.

With the new level of funding, UC compares very favorably with other institutions in terms of support for the humanities.  For instance, the entire University of California system supports its collective humanities research center with just over $2 million annually.  With 10 schools in that system, that funding would come to about $200,000 for each university if evenly distributed among them.

“The scale and scope of our programs is expansive compared to many schools,” explained Richard J. Harknett, professor and faculty chair of the Taft Research Center.  “Very few schools have stable funding for humanities research above a few hundred thousand annually even though this research encompasses a broad and diverse set of disciplines.  The range of our programs, which includes faculty as well as graduate and undergraduate awards, and the scale of our funding approaches that of the elite humanities centers in the country at universities such as Stanford and Yale.”

Marica Tacconi, executive director, Institute for the Art and Humanities, Pennsylvania State University, agreed, adding, “UC is indeed very fortunate to have this level of support for a humanities center.  Its extremely large budget will enable the Taft center to be in the forefront of humanities reserch and programming."

A quick comparison of approximate annual funding for humanities centers’ research and scholarship at other schools shows UC to be among the top.

The Charles Phelps Taft Memorial Fund has provided support to the humanities at UC for 75 years.  The increased level in annual funding to create the Taft Center came about in order to partner with the university in a concentrated effort to elevate the profile of the excellent scholarship already in place and to create new synergies for multi- and interdisciplinary collaboration.  

Philosophy graduate student Viorel Paslaru of Moldova will be living in UC's new Taft House at Stratford Heights.

The residential development, Taft House at Stratford Heights, will house six visiting scholars and six UC Taft graduate students.  Taft House also features a library, lecture room and meeting spaces, living room, kitchen and reception area.  While UC did not specifically build this structure located across the street from the Uptown Campus, the university did provide a $4.5-million loan to the neighborhood group completing the entire $67-million Stratford Heights development.  And increased humanities research funding from UC’s McMicken College of Arts & Sciences, Office of the Provost and Office of Research & Graduate Education made it possible to rent that space for use by humanities scholars.

In tandem with the Taft House, the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, located on the fifth floor of French Hall-West, will house a Fellows Suite of nine offices to bring six UC faculty and three visiting scholars into a multidisciplinary work environment.

For more on the Taft House ribbon cutting, the impact of annual funding from the Charles Phelps Taft Memorial Fund and the history of the fund itself, check out the links below



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