Dear Alumni and Friends,

I look forward to seeing colleagues and friends on campus soon—in three dimensions at long last! At the same time, I continue to reflect on how we have adapted to the pandemic in the Humanities Division.

The immediacy of Zoom meetings made for efficient, and sometimes even invigorating, work: rather than walking from one room or building to another or waiting for colleagues to gather, we moved from meeting to meeting with a computer click.

Still, I have greatly missed what I like to call “the serendipity of the drop-in,” with the colleague who stops by my office, sparking new conversations and ideas. More important, our students will return to face-to-face interaction with teachers and mentors, which is so critical to their development.

Clearly the element of human contact, virtual or in-person, has been vital during this challenging time. Likewise, the humanities have proven central to national conversations about everything from education to vaccines, and the work of humanists has become more accessible through the electronic platforms now so familiar to us.

We were gratified that 500 viewers tuned in to our Dean’s Salon Series for a presentation by Susanne Paulus (Oriental Institute and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), “House Hunters: Babylon, 1300 BCE.” Paulus began by noting that her own quest for a home in Hyde Park resembled her research into the social, legal, and economic aspects of dwellings built 3,000 years ago. For more on this fascinating topic, see Paulus’s contribution to “Two Perspectives on Urbanism” (see p. 4).

While the relevance of the humanities seemed to grow during the pandemic, COVID-19 unfortunately placed stress on university budgets, affecting the humanities academic job market and those who will bear the torch of humanistic inquiry into the future. We have been able to sustain many of our PhDs through our Humanities Teaching Fellowship program, which allows them the opportunity to teach undergraduate students and the time to prepare the publications that will launch their careers.

We are leaders in humanistic teaching and research today in part because of the loyal and generous support of our alumni and friends. For instance, the Abigail Rebecca Cohen Postdoctoral Fellowship, established by Daniel G. Cohen, AB’91, was awarded for the first time this spring, and the Arnaldo Momigliano Postdoctoral Fellowship, established by Sara McDougall and James Whitman, PhD’87, will be presented to a worthy recipient in 2022. I also thank Lois, AM’66, and Jerry, EX’67, Beznos as well as Ted Carlson and Catherine Mouly, AM’76, PhD’86, who continued the fellowships they generously established last year honoring Julius Rosenwald and Margaret Deffenbaugh Carlson, AM’43, respectively.

For their confidence in us and their gifts that are so indispensable to our mission, I am truly grateful to our wonderful friends.

Anne Walters Robertson
Dean, Division of the Humanities
Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Music

Photo Creds: 
Photo by John Zich