Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and the Humanities 

The arts and humanities are central to education, research, scholarship, and public engagement across the University of Illinois System. Instruction in these fields prepares students for a life of conscientious citizenship and creative contributions in every economic sector. Research and creative breakthroughs in these arenas help us imagine new approaches to today's social challenges, drawing from deep historical experience, finely honed craft, and expertise in collaboration and improvisation. The humanities and the arts also serve diverse publics by nurturing the human spirit, and by offering inspirational new experiences, renewed connection to records of the past, and frameworks for living within difference and debate.


The Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and the Humanities is a new system-wide funding opportunity aimed at highlighting and celebrating the public good flowing from the arts and humanities. The initiative is consistent with our Strategic Framework, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2016. The President's Office will provide up to $1 million each year for two years (FY2019, FY2020) to support this initiative. The goal of the program is to promote the strength of the humanities and the arts at our universities and beyond.


Proposals of 4-6 pages are invited from individual faculty or groups of faculty across our three universities. Collaborative and/or linked proposals are encouraged, with a maximum of $200,000 awarded to any single proposal. Cost sharing is welcome but not required.  

Funds should be used to support the visibility and excellence of the arts and/or humanities at any one of our universities or across our universities. Examples could include support for: purchase of artistic equipment such as musical instruments; renovation of studio or performance space; purchase of a special collection; a national symposium, year-long seminar, or series of artistic performances; release time for faculty to spearhead the endeavor; student support; and/or a large-scale community or state-wide event. Individual manuscript or one-time creative projects typically would not be supported through this program unless there is a substantial public impact component. 

The deadline for proposals is October 15, 2018. Proposals can be submitted online.


Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Potential of the project to enhance and celebrate the arts and/or the humanities within and across the U of I
  • Extent to which the project involves multiple university stakeholders, especially students
  • Ability of the project to reach a wider, more public audience beyond our universities (i.e. communities, the state, the nation)
  • The interdisciplinary nature of the project
  • Extent to which the impact has lasting value
  • Clear and compelling budget that highlights the need for system-level funds