The University of Michigan has announced two gifts totaling $8.2 million from alumna and professor emerita Ilene Forsyth in support of medieval art programming.
The gifts to the university's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) will help secure the future study of medieval art in the Department of the History of Art and provide educational and research opportunities for faculty and students alike. One gift will establish the George H. and Ilene H. Forsyth Professorship in Medieval Art, honoring the memory of Forsyth's late husband, George H. Forsyth Jr., a medieval architectural historian who served as both chair of the Department of History of Art and director of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. With the gift, U-M becomes the second school in the country with an endowed professorship in medieval art. The second gift will establish the Ilene H. Forsyth Fund in support of departmental initiatives, including postdoctoral fellowships, a visiting scholars program, a student and faculty exchange program, new seminars and symposia, faculty research, and study-related trips for art history students.
Professor emerita of History of Art in LSA and the former Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Ilene Forsyth began her teaching career at U-M in 1962 and retired in 1997. Her longstanding support for the Department of History of Art includes endowed graduate fellowships and funding for a program that enables any student enrolled in an art history course to travel to museums and sites where they can study works of art firsthand. An advocate of the arts at U-M, Forsyth has established endowments at the University Musical Society in support of orchestral and chamber arts performances and a seasonal theater presentation; donated artwork to the Kelsey Museum and the U-M Museum of Art; and provided financial support for the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, the Nichols Arboretum, and the Bentley Historical Library, to which she donated her late husband's scholarly papers.
"We are excited by this generous donation and grateful to professor Ilene Forsyth for helping to ensure the legacy of art history at U-M," said interim dean of LSA Elizabeth Cole. "Offering flexibility and focus, the gift enables us to further advance the University of Michigan as home to one of the most distinguished art history programs in the country."