Download image
“We are thrilled to be supported by The Mellon Foundation for our ambitious programming,” said David Theo Goldberg, director of the UC Humanities Research Institute and UCI professor of comparative literature and anthropology. “Our efforts will include humanities research projects, multicampus collaborations, postdoctoral fellowships, and a variety of public engagements and partnerships.” Steve Zylius / UCI

UC receives $10 million Mellon Foundation grant to support advanced humanities research

Gift provides initial endowment funding to sustain core activities on all UC campuses

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 24, 2018 — The University of California has received a $10 million matching grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to advance collaborative, interdisciplinary humanities research and education throughout the UC system.

The grant – the foundation’s largest-ever single award to UC – will provide the initial funding for a $30 million permanent endowment to sustain the core activities of the UC Humanities Research Institute and the UC Humanities Network. A collaborative campaign across all 10 UC campuses will be launched to raise $20 million in matching funds over four years.

The UC Humanities Network is a multi-campus research program centered in the nationally renowned UC Humanities Research Institute, an institute for advanced study housed at UC Irvine. The UCHRI hosts residential fellows and projects and sponsors a system-wide consortium of interconnected campus humanities centers and multi-campus research groups that fosters interdisciplinary and collaborative research. There is also a multi-tiered program of competitively awarded research fellowships for faculty and graduate students.

The network engages all 10 UC campuses in a wide variety of ambitious and innovative programs and projects that range from competitively-awarded research projects undertaken by individual scholars to collaborative research groups that bring together scholars from every campus.

“As the world’s premier public university system, the University of California is a leader in shaping humanities research worldwide,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “The UCHRI has made this possible by linking the system’s campuses around shared humanistic research goals. The Mellon Foundation has been a critical long-term partner of the UCHRI in this important work.”

Widely recognized as the world’s leading foundation supporting the humanities, The Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote and defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse democratic societies.

“Together, the UC Humanities Research Institute and the UC Humanities Network constitute one of the most collaborative and generative ecosystems for humanities research among public universities in the world,” said Mellon Foundation Executive Vice President Mariët Westermann. “In a time of relentless challenges for higher education, UC’s steely financial commitment to the humanities is admirable and makes the system a crucial partner for the foundation.”

“Leadership at all UC campuses worked together to advance the proposal to The Mellon Foundation and to establish a $30 million goal for the endowment,” said Enrique Lavernia, UCI provost and executive vice chancellor. “The endowment will help fund research, fellowship opportunities, graduate student stipends, conferences and working groups that will advance scholarship in the humanities and related fields.”

Recognized nationally and internationally as a premier location for humanities research, the UCHRI bridges the gap between disciplines and seeks to overcome the intellectual and institutional barriers across humanities as well as with the social and natural sciences, technology, art and medicine through public and digital projects as well as traditional scholarship.

“The value of Mellon’s investment in the humanities at UC and the concomitant endowment campaign cannot be overestimated,” said Georges Van Den Abbeele, dean of UCI’s School of Humanities and principal investigator for the UC Humanities Network. “Together, they fulfill the vision that former UC President David Gardner articulated 30 years ago of supporting and coordinating innovative humanities research on every UC campus and in system-wide collaborations.”

In addition to humanistic research and programming, multi-campus collaborative projects bring together faculty and graduate students and also promote vital public partnerships with cultural institutions and public humanities programs that contribute to both the university and society.

“This is an enormous honor for the institute,” said David Theo Goldberg, director of the UCHRI and UCI professor of comparative literature and anthropology. “We are thrilled to receive this support for our ambitious programming. We look forward to fulfilling the potential and the promise of this generative gift both at the UCHRI and on every UC campus.”

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit Additional resources for journalists may be found at