The University Record, December 4, 2000

19 institutions commit to ‘Imagining America’ program

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Nineteen institutions have identified projects and programs on their campuses that support the mission of “Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life.”

Projects range from the California Institute for the Arts’ computer video teleconferencing systems for Los Angeles inner-city youth isolated in their own city because of an urban environment fragmented along the racial and economic lines, to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s program to encourage conversation. Members of the Imagining America Presidents Council are forming partnerships with their communities to expand public and community engagement through the arts and humanities. With the Council chaired by President Lee C. Bollinger, the presidents and chancellors of 19 universities and colleges have committed to these programs.

In a collaborative project with the Federation of State Humanities Councils and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Imagining America has created a Web site as a tool kit for building regional campus/community networks. “Imagining Your State” that is at www.iys.umich.edu and offers such tools as “10 Principles of Effective Campus/Community Partnerships” and “Goals of a State Cultural Caucus,” as well as additional Web resources. The site also offers communities and campuses an opportunity to contribute their own experiences.

“This tool kit outlines a flexible model for cultural caucuses in each state aimed at bringing together the arts agency, the humanities council and the higher education community,” says Julie Ellison, director of Imagining America. “The goal of such cooperation is to strengthen citizenship and learning through the arts and humanities in ways suited to each geographical region.”

Individuals working with Ellison on the project are: Gail Leftwich, president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils; and Jonathan Katz, president of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.