The gift from Elizabeth Grass Weese and her brother, Roger Grass, will establish the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute — named in honor of their father, the founder of Rite Aid Corp. The institute will serve as a focal point and sponsor of programming for ten humanities departments in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, other departments in the humanistic social sciences, and related centers and programs. The largest gift Johns Hopkins has received exclusively for the humanities also will be used to promote literature, art, philosophy, history, and other disciplines in Baltimore and the wider community.
To that end, the institute plans to hold scholarly meetings and public events, support visiting scholars and public speakers, fund graduate student fellowships and undergraduate research projects, and foster collaboration involving faculty members from different departments. The institute also will explore other ventures, including fellowships for humanities-related projects in the community.
"Especially for our undergraduate students, many of whom will change careers every five years, the humanities provide personal resiliency by helping people resituate themselves in life's different circumstances," said Christopher Celenza, vice dean for humanities and social sciences and chair of the classics department. "They teach one how to do research that is translatable to other realms of inquiry; they build the capacity to follow complex rhetorical argumentation, [which is] all the more important in a world where information is moving around faster than ever; they hone our ability to express ourselves both orally and in writing; and they enrich our lives by allowing us to see the world in all its diversity."