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National Endowment for the Humanities Awards Eckerd College $300,000 Grant for Film Studies Professorship

posted on 01/25/2010

National Endowment for the Humanities

Eckerd College has received a grant of $300,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support the establishment of an endowed professorship in Film Studies. The College committed to raise $900,000 through its Many Experiences, One Spirit capital campaign to match the NEH Challenge Grant. Of the twenty challenge grants awarded by the NEH, Eckerd was one of only two undergraduate, four-year liberal arts college recipients.

Once fully funded, the Christian Nielsen Endowed Professorship in Film Studies - named after the late brother of longtime Eckerd trustee Helmar Nielsen, whose companion gift will provide the challenge grant match - will enable the professorship holder to develop a Film Studies major that offers a wider range of courses in this discipline.

"An expanded film program will help to attract new students to Humanities courses, will broaden the range of film-related General Education electives, and will provide additional intellectual and cultural opportunities for students and interested members of the local community," said Donald R. Eastman III, President of Eckerd College. "The addition of a Film Studies professorship is an exciting next step in strengthening the Humanities at Eckerd, and Trustee Nielsen's keen understanding of our needs in this area, his personal investment in the program and the NEH grant will combine to make this possible."

For the past decade, Eckerd has been steadily expanding its offerings in an interdisciplinary program of Film Studies. In 2003, as part of a strategic planning initiative, Eckerd College faculty from a number of disciplines came together to consolidate their various film-related offerings into what has become a very popular minor. In the academic year 2003-04, 127 students registered for the five courses offered; three years later, when the minor in Film Studies was first made available, 176 students registered in seven film courses; and in 2008-09, 220 students registered in the nine film courses offered.

Eckerd's Film Studies program is complemented by the International Cinema Series, which screens films every Friday during the academic year, and the weeklong Environmental Film Festival, which is held each spring. Both programs have been popular mainstays of the College's public offerings, adding cultural enrichment to the community. Other film-focused programs that will mutually benefit the Nielsen Professorship in Film Studies are the Anime Club, the Classic Film Club and the Eckerd Surreal Film Competition (in collaboration with the Salvador Dali Museum).

Eckerd last received a NEH challenge grant in 1992 for Endowed Chairs in East Asian Culture and Classics in the amount of $500,000 with a $1.5 million match. In addition to the Nielsen Professorship, the Many Experiences, One Spirit capital campaign has funded the following endowed professorships: the Richard R. Hallin Endowed Professorship in Natural Sciences, the Tom and Mary James Endowed Professorship in Finance, the Dr. Peter Meinke Endowed Professorship in Creative Writing and the Elie Wiesel Endowed Professorship in Humane Letters.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities.

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