Foundation News

The Foundation is actively seeking nominations of qualified individuals to serve on its board of directors. Candidates must work or reside in Massachusetts and believe in the importance of the humanities and their relevance to contemporary life. If you would like to nominate someone, or are interested yourself, please visit our website,, for more information and a description of board member responsibilities.

Recently-elected board member K. Scott Wong, Director of the American Studies and Asian American Studies Programs at Williams College, regretfully has resigned his position on the Foundation board because of professional responsibilities that were unanticipated at the time of his election.

The Clemente Course in the Humanities is being offered this year for the first time in New Bedford, through a three-way collaboration among MFH; the host agency, PACE, Inc. (People Acting in Community Endeavors); and UMass Dartmouth, which is providing major financial support to help expand educational opportunity in the region. The Foundation had long wanted to bring the course to New Bedford, one of the poorest cities in the Commonwealth, with an average household income 56 percent below the national average. Senator Mark Montigny played a critical role in bringing the partners together.

MFH is deeply grateful to Senator Montigny, to PACE Executive Director Bruce Morell, and to the UMass administrators whose commitment to the course has resulted in this unique partnership: Chancellor Jean MacCormack; Provost Louis Esposito; and William Hogan, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The Academic Director of the New Bedford class is Mark Santow, who directed the Clemente Course in Spokane before coming to Massachusetts as Assistant Professor of History at UMass Dartmouth.

The Foundation has begun a multi-faceted evaluation project to gather data on the long-term effects of the Clemente Course on its graduates. Although we have abundant anecdotal evidence of the course’s power to transform individual lives in the short term, we have lacked a comprehensive, statistically valid method for documenting its lasting effects. In early 2005, the Foundation arranged through the UMass Amherst Center for Policy and Administration for the services of four graduate students, who took on the task of designing an evaluation instrument for the Clemente Course as part of their course work. The plan they developed combines a numerically coded survey, which all Clemente students will fill out at intervals from enrollment to three years after graduation, with an indepth interview, which will be administered to a sampling of students over the same period. This fall, with the support of a grant from the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, MFH engaged another graduate student, Barbara Steel Lowney, to create a database for the new information and conduct a one-time survey of past graduates. Her initial findings, admittedly no more than a snapshot, are nonetheless encouraging. Respondents reported increased self-confidence, engagement in cultural activities, and motivation to improve their lives and those of their families. Members of the current Clemente classes in Holyoke and New Bedford have already provided baseline data for the long-term assessment. They will be revisited periodically in the years to come.

As of April 3, the Mass Moments radio spots, produced by the Foundation, will be available as a podcast as well as on the web at You can subscribe or download individual spots at iTunes and elsewhere online. We are working on other enhancements, chiefly a feature that links the "moments" to the Massachusetts history and social science frameworks and provides other tools to increase teachers` use of the website.

From the exhibit: b/w photograph from 6-part series "Defining Moments" by Yong Soon Min“STILL PRESENT PASTS” EXHIBITION
One of the most exciting projects to receive MFH grant support in recent years has begun a national tour. “Still Present Pasts: Korean Americans and the Forgotten War” will be on view from March 8th through April 16th at the ProArts Gallery in Oakland, California. This innovative, multi-media exhibition combines evocative works of art, documentary film footage, recorded excerpts from oral history interviews, and bilingual text to explore the haunting legacies of the Korean War in the lives of Korean Americans. Interactive components allow visitors to contribute their own memories and reflections. The exhibition was developed in Massachusetts under the guidance of Boston College professor Ramsay Liem. MFH awarded two grants to the project, which was featured in the Spring 2004 issue of MassHumanities. After highly successful installations in 2005 at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center and at Wellesley College’s Jewett Arts Center, the exhibition will travel to venues across the nation, with Oakland as its first stop. For further information, visit the project website,

THE MEANING OF SERVICEParticipants in "The Meaning of Service" at City Year National in Boston
MFH recently joined with other 12 state humanities councils in a national effort to bring a scholar-led reading and discussion series exploring the meaning and value of community service to AmeriCorps members across the country. Developed by the Illinois Humanities Council and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the program is being piloted in Massachusetts with City Year in Boston and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, the Dunbar Community Center, and Springfield College in Springfield. Sessions are facilitated in Boston by Julia Legas, a philosophy instructor at Suffolk University, and in Springfield by John Drabinski, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Assumption College.

MFH Executive Director David Tebaldi returned from his three-month sabbatical on January 3, extolling the virtues of Pietrasanta, the historic Tuscan city that served as his home during his sojourn in Italy. David`s travels also took him to Ireland, southern France, and Barcelona.

©2006 The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities

Published in Mass Humanities, Spring 2006