The largest ever gift made by the Berlanti Family Foundation will establish the Barbara Berlanti Professorship in Writing for the Screen and Stage in honor of Berlanti's mother, who died in 2017, boosting the school's teaching capacity and bolstering a curriculum designed to prepare students to create work by and for diverse, global audiences. To be housed in the Department of Radio/Television/Film, which offers graduate and undergraduate writing programs, the new professorship will expand a playwriting program previously endowed by Berlanti as well as its counterpart in screenwriting.
A writer, producer, and director of television and film, Berlanti established the foundation with his husband, Robbie Rogers, to improve the lives of all LGBTQIA people and their straight allies through education, the arts, medicine, and other social services. The professorship also has received support from alumni Patrick G. ('59, H '09) and Shirley W. Ryan ('61, H '19, P '97, '00) through the Ryan Family Chair Challenge, which matches gifts to the university for new endowed professorships or chairs.
"My mom, Barbara Berlanti, was a lifelong champion of the arts and my greatest advocate and patron," said Berlanti. "She placed an old typewriter in front of me at ten years old and told me to start writing all the stories that were in my head — instead of just talking her ear off — and I haven't stopped since. Our family is so proud to have a professorship in her name dedicated to helping Northwestern continue its great legacy of fostering the next generation of humane, diverse, courageous, and bold storytellers."