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National ‘Imagining America’ consortium moves to Syracuse University
National ‘Imagining America’ consortium moves to Syracuse UniversityOctober 05, 2006Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
Syracuse University has been selected as the new host campus of Imagining America (IA), a national consortium of 73 colleges and universities whose mission is to strengthen the public role and democratic purposes of the humanities, arts and design. Currently hosted by the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, IA will transition to SU beginning July 1, 2007, for a term that extends to 2012.
IA was founded in 1999 as a partner program of the White House Millennium Council. Since 2001, it has functioned as a national consortium under the leadership of founding director Julie Ellison. Members include large and small, public and private liberal arts and research institutions, as well as historically black colleges and universities, including Arizona State University, Bates College, Chicago State University and Stanford University. Information on IA’s background, programs and member institutions is available on its website: http://www.ia.umich.edu.
“As an original participant in the creation of the Imagining America consortium, I’m honored that Syracuse has been selected as the new home for IA,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “SU becoming the new home of this innovative, collaborative consortium fits perfectly with the University’s Scholarship in Action vision. As many scholars and artists at colleges and universities are increasingly engaging in public scholarship and collaborating in new ways with their communities, the support that IA provides helps to expand and grow these efforts in creative scholarship and ensure that this type of work is properly valued within higher education.”
SU’s selection as the new host campus for IA will be among the topics at the Oct. 6 “Celebration of the Humanities” and re-dedication of the Tolley Building on campus. Formal recognition will also be given to SU at the IA consortium’s national conference in Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 7-8.
“The move of Imagining America to Syracuse University comes at a transformative time for IA and for the larger movement to connect higher education with civic and community life,” says David Scobey, chair of IA’s national advisory board. “Thanks to our founding years at UM, Imagining America has grown into a key national voice for public engagement in the arts and humanities. Having Syracuse host Imagining America will enable us to continue to grow the scope of our consortium and to leaven our creativity. I hope that Imagining America will help to leaven SU’s own community engagements.”
According to Scobey, IA has successfully made itself the leading voice for the importance of public engagement in the arts and humanities, stressing the intellectual and civic importance of public scholarship and mobilizing educational leaders to develop publication and tenure practices that support the enterprise of public scholarship.
One of IA’s current and prominent initiatives is the Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) program, a crucial component of IA’s commitment to expanding the public role of humanists and artists who are based in higher education. Now in its third year, PAGE is establishing a national network of graduate students with a demonstrated commitment to public scholarship and community engagement. Through the PAGE Fellows program, which selects 15 graduate students annually from a competitive national pool, IA aims to become a unique resource for future faculty so that they may continue the national conversation about benchmarking civic engagement efforts in higher education.
“Imagining America marks a historic moment in the life of Syracuse University,” says Cathryn R. Newton, dean of SU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “As a consortium grounded in a movement for change in higher education and civic life, Imagining America will help us build on our region’s deep historical and cultural roots. And it will advance public and collaborative scholarship on our own campus and those of our sister institutions nationwide.”
Interdisciplinary in scope, IA will function as a budgetary unit of The College of Arts and Sciences but will serve the national community of IA. Offices will be housed on the first floor of the newly renovated Tolley Building, alongside SU’s new Center for the Public and Collaborative Humanities. A transition team spanning many SU academic and administrative areas has been formed to prepare for the July 2007 transition. In the coming months, a search will be conducted for a new faculty director.
Among IA’s immediate goals during its SU residency are to continue growing the consortium of institutions; enhance communication and information-sharing between members and IA and among member campuses; encourage intellectual and artistic experimentation about campus-community partnerships; and share products, best practices, analysis and assessment of those partnerships.
Future consortium goals include to institutionalize norms of tenure, promotion, materials rewards and recognition that support public engagement in the arts and humanities, and to develop new genres, formats and forums of publication for such work.
“The University of Michigan has been proud to support IA over the past five years,” says Marvin Parnes, associate vice president for research and executive director of research administration at UM. “While we will miss the added vibrancy that IA lent to our own public scholarship activities, we recognize that the move to Syracuse as a new host campus is a sign of the strength and sustainability of IA as a major national force in higher education. UM expects to continue to be an active member of IA for years to come.”