Welcome to the Susan and Donald Newhouse Center for the Humanities
Founded in 2004 with a generous gift from Wellesley alumna Suzy Newhouse ’55, the Newhouse Center supports the work of Wellesley’s humanities faculty and students in fellowships, symposia, projects, special classes, public humanities projects, events and collaborations with our consortium members (NEHC). We run a fellows’ residency program, a summer program for Wellesley faculty, and we host the Mary L. Cornille Distinguished Professor each year, as well as hold the annual Betsy Turner Jordan ’59 lecture. Our policies and selection process are collaborative, the result of a generous donation of time from members of our Advisory Board.
Our mission is to build a vibrant and inclusive humanities research and programming hub at the College through the fellows’ program, through teaching initiatives, and in innovative programming that expands from the classroom out into the community. We support Wellesley faculty in all phases of their careers, providing a space to think and write in the middle of demanding professional lives, and we advocate passionately for the ways that the humanistic disciplines enrich human life, open human minds, and contribute to a more nuanced and empathic understanding of global issues.
Through interdisciplinary research and creative arts programming, the Newhouse Center for the Humanities builds community across Wellesley’s humanities departments.
The Newhouse Center practices inclusion in the broadest sense, in its areas of inquiry and in its opportunities for faculty and students. We might tackle a question through a single discipline: for example, how is the logic of misogyny constructed? Or we might work more broadly, asking what is the role of the particular space, the distinctive language, the untranslatable text in an increasingly transnational world? We want to hear about the issues that fascinate and frustrate you, the pressing questions, your next big project.
The Newhouse Center is open to faculty and students who wish to pursue a subject in depth, work across disciplines, or find additional support for classroom activities. We also invite faculty from other divisions and centers on campus to collaborate with us. With the creation of summer fellowships for our faculty in 2019, we continue to highlight the groundbreaking work being done in the humanities on this campus. We also work on sustained involvement with students, through the Mellon Mays undergraduate program, which is now housed within the Center, and by sending Newhouse fellows into related departments and classrooms. Our goal is to have the Newhouse serve as a “commons” where faculty, students, and staff enter freely, congregate, exchange ideas, and grow.
In my time as director, we’ve taken up an issue that remains of pressing interest to our community: the subject of borders and the people who migrate across or who are detained within them. Faculty with an interest in representations of the geopolitical, linguistic, and constructed borders that crisscross the globe are encouraged to contact me. With the Newhouse well into its second decade, we look forward to further engaging with Wellesley faculty and the students who make Wellesley College an exciting place to be. Our doors are open.
Director, the Newhouse Center for the Humanities
Professor of Japanese
“Wellesley nurtures. I had a sheltered early life and found Wellesley’s boundless offerings and small classes forced personal growth, while the exposure to women, thinking women, talking women, excited women from every state and many foreign countries, expanded my horizons… Wellesley gives us hope for future generations.”—Susan Marley Newhouse ’55
In 2004, a gift from Susan (Suzy) Marley Newhouse ’55 and Donald Newhouse established the Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College to promote innovative, imaginative, and influential research in the humanities. Throughout her life, Suzy was known for her dedication to public service and the arts. In addition to her lifelong commitment to Wellesley, this dedication extended to her work as a trustee for the New York Public Library and Lincoln Center Theatre, among others. She was also the longtime chairwoman of the Fresh Air Fund. Suzy’s work touched many communities, and she is especially cherished at Wellesley; it comes as no surprise, then, that many in the Wellesley community refer to the Newhouse Center simply as “The Suzy.”
Suzy Cooper Marley graduates from Wellesley College with a B.A. in English. A week later, she marries Donald Edward Newhouse in Syracuse, New York. While at Wellesley, Suzy lived in Tower Court and focused her studies on the arts, languages, and humanities.
Shortly after graduating, Suzy joins the board of the New York Wellesley Club. Later, she becomes director and serves on the Board until 1963. Relationships from Wellesley played an important role throughout her life, especially the loyal friends dating back to her college days, who continued to “enrich her life in special ways.”
Suzy co-founds the National Dance Institute (NDI), an organization that combined her love of dance with her passions for children’s education and enriching her community. In its first 40 years, the NDI impacted over 2 million children worldwide.
Suzy becomes a trustee of Wellesley College, serving until 2007. In addition to her charming presence and deep appreciation of good chocolate (which she always generously shared with others), Suzy was known as a stalwart on the Landscape & Buildings Committee, Student Life Committee, and the Admissions Committee. Of her Board tenure, Suzy remarked, “I have enjoyed the experience and the challenges facing higher education in America. There is great nostalgia in visiting Wellesley often, and getting to know students and faculty is a delight.”
In addition to generous gifts in support of financial aid and international student scholarships, Suzy and Donald make a $10 million gift during The Wellesley Campaign to establish a dedicated humanities center. According to Suzy, “The establishment of the Humanities Center reflects our personal and professional interests and will be an important addition to the College’s academic program.”
The Newhouse Center for the Humanities opens, bringing to fruition a long-held faculty dream of endowed support for humanities programming and a dedicated physical space. Tim Peltason, the director of the Newhouse at the time, said of the new space, “the design embodies the necessary balance that we are always seeking to strike between tradition and innovation, between the great values of permanence and progression.”
Suzy passes away at age 80. When asked in 2005 to reflect on her life and what she found most satisfying, Suzy answered, “My Wellesley days, my husband, children and grandchildren, my work with my children’s schools… and children’s organizations.” Carrying on her legacy of generosity, her husband, Donald, and family now devote their energies to advance treatments for Frontotemporal Dementia and raising awareness about the disease.
New England Humanities Consortium
The Newhouse Center joined the New England Humanities Consortium (NEHC) in September 2018. This innovative collaborative effort was started by the University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute and soon grew to connect 11 colleges and universities in New England. NEHC’s stated goal is to share ideas and resources in speakers’ series, research collaborations, and institutional partnerships. Please see the NEHC website for further information and for news of opportunities.
Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes
The Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) is a worldwide network of over 250 humanities centers, institutes, research libraries and similar organizations. Their goal is to support the future of the humanities by fostering new methods of interdisciplinary collaboration. For more information, please visit the CHCI website.
National Humanities Alliance
The National Humanities Alliance (NHA) is comprised of over 200 colleges and universities, museums, libraries, state humanities organizations and other humanities associations across the United States. They seek to secure federal funding for the humanities and to promote the study and engagement in the humanities in communities nationwide. For more information, please visit the NHA website.
The Newhouse Center for the Humanities
106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02481
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