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Anonymous Gift Creates $1M Endowment for Humanities

February 11, 2015

UC Merced will soon benefit from increased leadership in the humanities, thanks to an anonymous $500,000 donation and a $500,000 match from the UC Office of the President.

The gift and match will establish a $1 million endowment to fund the UC Merced Presidential Chair in the Humanities. The chair will provide leadership and vision for humanities research at UC Merced, said Mark Aldenderfer, dean of the School of Social Sciences Humanities and Arts.

The money generated by the endowment will help fund the chair’s own research and teaching activities, and he or she will work closely with the Center for the Humanities, which was established in 2012 through a $2 million gift from the same anonymous donor.

“The Center for the Humanities has been very active and very successful,” Aldenderfer said. “Our goal is to bring in a distinguished candidate to put a stamp on this university’s outstanding humanities-related research with exceptional energy, vision and insight into how our activities can be extended on campus and in the community.”

The humanities chair is UC Merced’s first position to be created by UC President Janet Napolitano’s Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs, which last year allocated $4 million per campus to encourage donors to establish endowed faculty chairs. The matching program is funded through the Presidential Endowment Fund, a source of private donations the president can use at her discretion to support university activities. 

Aldenderfer said the chair will be selected through a faculty-led search that begins later this year. 

“From a dean’s perspective, it’s always good to have strong intellectual leadership in a program,” he said. “It is important to have someone who has a vision and can move that vision forward.”