AP NEWS

University Of Scranton To Create Center For Humanities

May 9, 2019

SCRANTON — As some schools decrease humanities education, the University of Scranton on Thursday pledged to strengthen it. A grand victorian home on the university’s campus will soon become the Gail and Francis Slattery Center for Humanities, advancing the school’s liberal arts tradition and enhancing the core role it plays in the formation of students to become “men and women for others,” officials said at the announcement on the home’s front porch. “From the very beginning, Jesuit education has been — and continues to be — firmly grounded in the humanities,” university President Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., said. The center will help strengthen humanities education across majors and departments. The university will educate business professionals who can lead ethically, doctors and lawyers who can think critically, artists who can change the world with aesthetics and writers who can create a lasting impact with words, said Jeff Gingerich, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. The center is named after the parents of benefactor and current university Trustee James M. Slattery of Peachtree City, Georgia. He and his wife, Betsy, gave $1 million to create the center. James M. Slattery, chief operating officer of North America for Melrose PLC, earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the university and credits his parents for instilling in him a commitment to Catholic education. Humanities include the study of society and culture — including history, languages, law, literature and philosophy. In the last decade, with students worried about finding jobs after graduation, the number of graduates with degrees in the humanities declined nationwide. But regardless of major, students need to have an education rooted in the humanities, Pilarz said. The center will create a forum to sponsor prominent speakers and related events, a digital humanities laboratory, artist-in-residence and scholar-in-residence programs and a humanities scholarship program for students, who will participate in a series of special seminars and classes. Elevated discourse on an array of topics and civic engagement will be encouraged by members of the university community, as well as by residents throughout the greater Scranton area. The old home, on the corner of Mulberry Street and Clay Avenue, is now known as the McGowan House and is used for student housing. The university has owned the property since the 1990s. An adjacent blue house, also owned by the university and used for housing, will be renamed the McGowan House when the humanities center opens in the fall. Standing on the porch and lawn, members of the university community applauded the announcement Thursday. “From arts to politics, the humanities ask our students to be intellectually curious,” said Yamile Silva, Ph.D., associate professor and chairwoman of the world languages and cultures department. “We need the humanities more than ever.” Contact the writer: shofius@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9133; @hofiushallTT on Twitter