Forward Thinking

The Campaign for Case Western Reserve University

Frank N. Linsalata, Chair, Forward Thinking: The Campaign for Case Western Reserve University

From the Campaign Chair:

This evening marked a historic moment for Case Western Reserve University and our partners at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Together our leaders announced a $15 million commitment from Nancy and Joseph Keithley to advance art history at both institutions.

"We are humbled, excited and inspired by this historic commitment from Nancy and Joseph Keithley," Case Western Reserve President Barbara R. Snyder said. "Their generosity and commitment to collaboration will advance our partnership with the Cleveland Museum of Art in ways that will benefit scholars, museums and the field of art history itself for generations to come."

Joe, a member of our Board of Trustees, and his wife Nancy, a member of the museum's board, believe strongly in the power of collaboration to create opportunities unavailable to institutions acting alone. After seeing the extraordinary progress the university and museum made in reimagining a joint doctoral program in art history, the two were inspired to act.

Their commitment creates the Nancy and Joseph Keithley Institute for Art History, an initiative that will advance the vision of the revitalized doctoral program and provide invaluable opportunities for undergraduates and the public as well.

"We feel strongly about the world-class quality of institutions in Cleveland," Nancy and Joseph Keithley said in a release announcing their gift. "We also believe collaboration increases exponentially their benefit and influence within our community, and well beyond it. We are thrilled to help catapult this partnership to a new level of global impact."

The new doctoral program is so innovative that the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the institutions a $500,000 grant to support its work last year. The Keithley commitment includes stipends for graduate students, funds for publications and public programs and support for undergraduate internships and other opportunities. It also will fund the position of institute director, the individual responsible for developing the strategic direction and guiding the initiatives of the institute.

Finally, the commitment designates resources for acquisitions and other needs of the museum's Ingalls Library and Museum Archives, the third-largest art research library in the United States.

"We are honored that Nancy and Joseph Keithley chose to help us realize our shared dreams of a dynamic, world-class institute," said David Franklin, the Sarah S. and Alexander M. Cutler Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. "Their gift is not only a gift of collaboration, but also the opportunity to realize incomparable opportunities for students, faculty, museum staff and the public. We look forward to working closely with Case Western Reserve to make this an innovative program that attracts the best and brightest faculty and students from this country and around the world."

The updated doctoral program emphasizes an "object-oriented" approach—that is, one that integrates theory and methodology with intensive, in-person study of actual pieces of art. In addition to seeing objects firsthand, students also will participate in museum internships that provide real-world experience in curation and other aspects of museum operation. In an era when digital and virtual lessons become increasingly ubiquitous, the value of an object focus becomes all the more apparent.

Catherine Scallen, Chair, Department of Art History and Art, CWRU

"Each work of art is an idiosyncratic, fascinating object in its own right," said Catherine Scallen, chair of the university's Department of Art History and Art and one of the co-authors of the new program. "Each one of them has its own life history—that's why it's very important to learn about the specific object."

On behalf of all of us involved in the Forward Thinking: The Campaign for Case Western Reserve University, I extend our profound thanks to Joe and Nancy and to the scholars whose excellence inspired their generosity.