Generous Gifts Support Graduate Research

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Graduate student research has been supported in recent years by new endowments given or bequeathed by former faculty, or given by others in their honor. These funds highlight the notably strong link between faculty members and graduate research.  According to department chair, Tobie Meyer-Fong, “The department is deeply grateful to be able to support our students, while honoring the legacy of our distinguished former faculty in this distinctive way.”

Last year the department received two major gifts of this special type and was able to begin funding student research with a third gift, which became available for use.  These are, respectively, the New Directions Fund, launched by inaugural donor, Professor Emerita Dorothy Ross, The Jean Hébrard Graduate Student Fellowship for Summer Research, funded by an anonymous donor on the occasion of Professor Jean Hébrard’s retirement from teaching, and the William and Willie Lee Rose fund, a bequest from the late Professor Willie Lee Rose and her husband. 

Beginning in 2024, the Jean Hébrard Graduate Student Fellowship for Summer Research will support exploratory pre-dissertation research travel by a student in their first or second year in the PhD program. The gift honors Jean Hébrard’s commitment to graduate training and international exchange, which he demonstrated both at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris and at Johns Hopkins. At Hopkins, Hébrard spearheaded weekly meetings dedicated to preparing graduate students for the Monday Seminar. Jointly with Martha S. Jones, he led advanced conversations about the paper, working with students to dissect its arguments, and brainstorm questions. The meetings quickly became a fixture that fostered collaborative learning for students, offering a unique space for reflection ahead of the weekly Department wide Seminar.  The surprise gift in Professor Hébrard’s honor was revealed to the department at his retirement celebration in the spring.

The William and Willie Lee Rose Fellowship also provides a new source of support for graduate student research travel.Willie Lee Rose was a highly regarded historian of Reconstruction and slavery. She also was a pioneering woman in what was then still very much a male-dominated field.  Dr. Willie Lee Rose was committed to teaching throughout her career — she had taught high school English and history before earning her doctorate at Hopkins in 1962. She is perhaps most famous as the author of a 1970 report on behalf of the American Historical Association calling for the increased presence of women in the profession. Her gift to the department will support an annual travel grant. This year, the department awarded the inaugural William and Willie Lee Rose fellowships to Wesley Sampias and Halle-McKenzie Ashby.

In early 2023, Dr. Dorothy Ross, Arthur O. Lovejoy Professor Emerita in the History Department, a leader in the field of American intellectual history, made a generous donation to launch the New Directions Fund. The fund is specifically designated to support the work of graduate students; that it is not named after Professor Ross reflects her hope that others will contribute to it in the future. In his announcement of the gift on the department website, Professor Francois Furstenberg observed that his adviser, Professor Ross, found her engagement with graduate students to be the most rewarding part of her experience at Hopkins. Her students, including Furstenberg, found their work with Professor Ross similarly meaningful due to her fearsome intellect, and her generous, sustained, and serious engagement with their research and writing. He noted further that the New Directions Fund will perpetuate that personal dedication to graduate education in new form. These three recent endowment gifts continue the department’s longstanding commitment to graduate education and will materially benefit current and future generations of students.  They are also part of an extraordinary tradition of generous gifts from or in honor of faculty in the department.