A Duke alumni couple has made a $10 million gift to Duke University to advance the humanities.
The gift will amplify the Schiff Family Humanities Fund, an endowment established by Beth York Schiff ’81, J.D.’85 and Jim Schiff ’81 in 2010 to support students and faculty pursuing humanistic studies that illuminate enduring questions and the complex challenges of our times. To honor the Schiffs for this gift and their record of support for Duke humanities, Duke’s Board of Trustees has resolved to name the divisional deanship of Humanities & the Arts for the Schiff family—the first such naming in Trinity College.
“Humanities are at the heart of our educational and research missions, and we are so very grateful for Beth and Jim Schiff’s extraordinary commitment,” said Duke University President Vincent E. Price. “Their generosity will strengthen interdisciplinary learning and discovery, and will support our remarkable humanities faculty and students.”
Duke’s humanities departments represent some of the top-ranked programs in the U.S., using historical, philosophical, and artistic approaches to study the human condition, advance knowledge, and better society.
“This new commitment by Beth and Jim Schiff not only allows for significantly increased annual support from their endowment but also cements critical support for Duke humanities in perpetuity,” said William Johnson, the inaugural Schiff Family Dean of Humanities & the Arts. Prior to their new $10 million gift, the Schiffs supported humanities across Duke, including establishing a professorship in English.
The Schiff Family Humanities Fund will be used to support
- Innovative undergraduate initiatives, such as Transformative Ideas, a new humanities curriculum for second-year students that encourages open and civil cross-disciplinary dialogue about the big ideas that change lives, link cultures, and shape societies around the world;
- Collaborations such as our Humanities Labs, which engage faculty, students, and community partners in interdisciplinary discovery, storytelling, and presentation on important topics like migration, environment, and local history; and
- Graduate student and faculty support, including fellowship assistance, competitive leaves, and other programs that build new expertise in teaching and research.
The Schiffs have served on the Trinity College Board of Visitors, including Jim serving as chair from 2011-2013, and both are long-time supporters of Duke through giving and volunteerism. Beth and Jim have been co-chairs of their Reunions and served on several university-wide committees for past Duke campaigns.
“The humanities give so much to our understanding of ourselves and our world across our lives,” said Beth Schiff. “We see advancing this division at Duke as crucial to advancing Duke and Duke’s impact on the world.”
“We couldn’t be more proud and humbled to be patrons of Duke humanities, ensuring the humanities continue to guide and propel Duke undergraduate and graduate students for generations to come,” said Jim Schiff.