A prestigious grant from the Henry Luce
Foundation, providing up to $1 million in support,
has been awarded to Oberlin College. The grant will
fund a new professorship - the Henry R. Luce
Professorship in the Emerging Arts - for six years;
thereafter it is renewable for up to three years. A
national search committee, convened by President
Dye, will select the Luce Professor during 1999.
The scholar chosen to be the Henry R. Luce
Professor in the Emerging Arts will develop and
teach new interdisciplinary courses designed to
provide a theoretical framework for the emerging
arts; conduct seminars for faculty from the various
art disciplines and the humanities, with the goal
of developing a shared understanding of and
curricula for the new interdisciplinary arts
courses; and strengthen the arts community at
Oberlin by identifying talented emerging artists
and providing an intellectual context for their
"The Luce Professorship will enable Oberlin
faculty and students to lead in the creation of a
new artistic language for the 21st century," said
Karen Wolff, former dean of the Conservatory. "This
language will reflect the converging styles,
cultures, art forms and technologies of our time.
The prospects are very exciting."
The need for the "new artistic language" to
which Wolff refers is a direct result of the
rapidly shifting influence advancing technology has
had upon the arts. Oberlin's proposal to the Luce
Foundation explained that the proliferation of
digital imagery, computer-generated sound, audio
clips and video footage presents the public with
aesthetic experiences as startlingly new to us as
the introduction of photography and sound were to
those living in the nineteenth century.
"Just as the camera reinvented the way we think
and see, and proposed new standards for what we see
as reality," said Professor of Art William Hood,
"so, too, film and video have made it possible for
visual artists to use modes of seeing that are
simply unprecedented in the world's art because
they are time-based without being captives of real
The Luce Grant proposal was created by a
committee of College and Conservatory faculty and
staff chaired by David Love, Associate Vice
President for Research and Development. Committee
members spanned the campus: Clayton Koppes, dean of
the Arts and Sciences, Art (William Hood and Lynn
Lukkas), Conservatory (Richard Povall and former
dean Wolff), Philosophy (Norman Care) and Director
of Foundation and Corporate Support Pamela Snyder.
A visit to campus by representatives of the Luce
Foundation featured discussions with students
active in interdisciplinary arts creation and
performances, and with faculty and staff.
Oberlin is one of only two colleges in the
United States awarded the grant from the Luce
Professorship Program in 1998. The program,
established in 1969, encourages academic innovation
and creativity through integrative and
interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and
research in American private higher education.
Clayton Koppes said Oberlin is ideally suited
for the position "because of its rich traditions of
arts education. The Conservatory, the rich and
diverse arts programs in the College and the more
than 11,000 objects in the Allen Memorial Art
Museum's superb permanent collection will provide a
fertile training ground for these emerging arts.
Oberlin will be an extraordinary laboratory for the
scholar selected to be the Luce Professor."