Over the last decade, it has been my distinct honor to be part of the collective spirit of inquiry here at UCHI. That is a spirit that UCHI embodies by its very nature, and this year manifested it more than any other. Our inaugural undergraduate fellows, Rylee Thomas and Karen Lau, capped off a year of collaborative fellowship by giving two spectacular talks illustrating the value of humanities scholarship and advocacy. We launched two exhibits about the social emergence of knowledge led by Alexis Boylan: Picturing the Pandemic (with Sarah Willen) and Seeing Truth (in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History). And this year saw the launch of a new global initiative in partnership with Rutgers, Design Justice AI, as well as (in partnership with the New England Humanities Consortium or NEHC), the fourth Symposium of the Faculty of Color Working Group.
It has been tremendous to watch UCHI grow in both ambition and in substance. We have gone from a plucky institute housed in a few cozy rooms in the Austin building to an internationally known research center occupying the top floor of the library. Over the years, we’ve hosted dozens of creative minds, our fellowship program has become one of the most competitive anywhere, we founded and led the NEHC, and we’ve been awarded over $8 million in grants for projects on topics such as restoring public discourse, supporting faculty of color, and the future of truth.
None of this could have been possible without the collective work of the best team at the university, which for this year was Nasya Al-Saidy, Mary Volpe, Eric Berg, Nimra Asif, Katrina Kish, Elizabeth Zavodony, Elizabeth Della Zazzera, Yohei Igarashi, and the ever-amazing Alexis Boylan. My deepest thanks to them, and to everyone who has contributed to running this institute for the past nine years, for their hard work, creative insight, and good humor.
As I step away from the director’s seat, I know that UCHI’s spirit of collective inquiry will only grow. I very much look forward to watching the Institute develop under Professor Duane’s dynamic leadership and I’m confident it will remain a focus of creative humanistic inquiry well into the future.
Michael P. Lynch
Provost Professor of the Humanities
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Philosophy