The University of Illinois is reaffirming the significance of the arts and humanities by launching a new graduate fellowship program intended to attract the best and brightest students in these fields.
The College of LAS is collaborating with the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Graduate College, and the Office of the Provost to offer the Distinguished Graduate Fellowships in the Humanities and Arts to 16 graduate students in the humanities and arts-based humanities per year. The three-year competitive fellowships will provide scholars with a $25,000 annual stipend along with a waiver of tuition and mandatory fees.
Feng Sheng Hu, the Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS, said the new fellowships are part of an effort to advance and promote the humanities at Illinois at a time when students are increasingly opting to enroll in programs outside these fields.
“There is not a single comprehensive university in the world that is considered first-rate without strong humanities programs,” Hu said. “It doesn’t matter how many challenges we have; we’re going to have history, philosophy, English, and other humanities units. They are so essential to the training of our students. That’s how they develop a broad perspective, critical thinking, and the ability to articulate their opinions and ideas clearly. We have to have resources to attract the best graduate students and the best faculty in the humanities.”
Relevant units can submit nominations for these fellowships during the process of recruiting doctoral students to Illinois. Nominees will be considered by an awards committee. The first nominees for the fellowships are currently under review, and a regular competition will be started during the 2018-19 academic year.
Faculty and administrators across campus voiced strong support for the new fellowships.
“This new fellowship program promotes what the College of Fine and Applied Arts has long valued: the discoveries that result when humanities scholarship and creative endeavors come together in our performing, visual, and environmental arts disciplines,” said Peter Mortensen, interim dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts.
Wojtek J. Chodzko-Zajko, dean of the Graduate College, said that establishing the Distinguished Graduate Fellowships in the Humanities and Arts was “simply the right thing to do.”
"The Distinguished Graduate Fellowships represent the highest and most prestigious fellowships offered by the University of Illinois,” Chodzko-Zajko said. “By creating a special competition for the humanities and arts, the university is recognizing the centrality of these disciplines not only to the future of the university, but also to the betterment of society. The humanities and arts add to the quality of our lives, they promote meaningful social interaction, and they help to produce more diverse thinkers and communities.”
Antoinette Burton, director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, Swanlund Endowed Chair, and a professor of history, said the fellowships are a “welcome recognition of the links between research excellence in the humanities and institutional support for graduate education and training.”
“Students recruited to Illinois through these fellowships are the very best and brightest humanities scholars in the nation, and indeed the world,” Burton said.