About Us: History
While the Center's influence on the academic program has been felt since 2000 through various nascent initiatives, its launching was made possible with gifts from generous donors the Haverford College's successful capital campaign that began in 2001 under the leadership of Board Chair, John B. Hurford '60.
By the end of the campaign, three years later, the Humanities Center was named to honor the memory of John Hurford. Haverford's academic centers–The Hurford Humanities Center, The Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, and the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center–were established to encourage integrated learning that crosses disciplines, avoids fragmentation of knowledge, and enhances the College's strong curriculum.
2004-05 was the Center's first full year of programming supported by a professional staff. In January 2005, the Center moved to dedicated offices and meeting rooms in Stokes Hall, which is when it arrived in a physical sense, and is poised to foster challenging exchange among faculty and students here on campus, as well as encounters with diverse communities of innovators, artists, writers and thinkers beyond the confines of Haverford.
In 2006, the Center was invited to take over the administration and programming of Haverford's principal gallery space, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery in the Whitehead Campus Center, in order to professionalize its operation and to link exhibitions more closely to the college's academic program. Since then the Gallery has become an integral part of the Center as the principal venue for the Haverford College Exhibitions Program, which aims to extend cultural literacy through the display and analysis of work across visual and material media. Envisioning exhibition spaces as active workshops for the exploration of visual culture, the Exhibitions Program partners with faculty, students, and visiting curators to design exhibitions that connect curricular interests and scholarship with contemporary artistic practice.
In 2011, Haverford added "arts" to the center's name and we became the John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities. This name better reflects the range of programs, exhibitions, seminars, reading groups, performances, installations, student internships, and arts residencies prospering under the Hurford Center's aegis. The past five years have witnessed the renewed vibrancy of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and the increased relevance of intermedial and cross-disciplinary offerings, the growth of a culture of documentary filmmaking on campus, and the continued vitality of he increased relevance of intermedial and cross-disciplinary offerings, the growth of a culture of documentary filmmaking on campus, and the continued vitality of core Center initiatives like the annual Faculty Humanities Seminar and Student Seminars.
The name change also coincides with the awarding of a substantial grant from the Mellon Foundation. Under the Hurford Center's leadership this grant will enable artistic residencies to take place at Haverford, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore in ways that combine experiential richness and intellectual rigor.
Funding for the Hurford Center comes from income from its endowment, grants, and restricted gifts.
Established by grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 1998, the Mellon Fellows Program is a dedicated part of the Hurford Center's program that brings recent humanities Ph.Ds to campus—to work with faculty (in their first year, the Faculty Humanities Seminar), with students (with two courses each year), and with the wider community (in a public symposium mounted during each Fellow's second year). In the Fall of 2005, the Mellon Foundation invited Haverford to apply for a grant to endow the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships. In December, the $1.5 million Mellon challenge grant was matched within days by a generous Haverford donor and alumnus, and the Mellon Fellowship program has permanent funding.
The Center's annual Performance Arts Series is anchored by a generous grant from The Leaves of Grass Foundation. Funds from Leaves of Grass support visits from distinguished artists, filmmakers, public intellectuals, musicians, dancers, and others who not only offer significant presentations to the public but also lead smaller groups of faculty, students, and community members in sustained reflection on the meaning and significance of what they do.
The Kessinger Family Fund for Asian Performing Arts supports Hurford Center performances and residencies dedicated to the rich artistic heritage of South Asia, East Asia, and Indonesia, and was started by former Haverford President Tom Keissinger and his wife, Varyam.