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UMD Libraries announces partnership with the College of Arts and Humanities’ Frederick Douglass Center for Leadership Through the Humanities

Libraries joins ARHU to advance the Center’s mission to engage diverse communities around issues of social justice and equity and cultivate leaders with values rooted in the humanities.

Frederick Douglass statue outside Hornbake Library

The University of Maryland Libraries is proud to announce a new partnership with the College of Arts and Humanities’ (ARHU) Frederick Douglass Center for Leadership Through the Humanities. The Libraries will collaborate closely with ARHU to bring library- and archives-based leadership and knowledge resources to enhance the Center’s mission. The Center aims to emphasize the importance of the humanities and arts in the cultivation of leaders who are committed to creating more equitable and just environments in schools, nonprofit organizations, local businesses, social movements, and beyond.

Libraries’ faculty members, Lae’l Hughes-Watkins, Associate Director for Engagement, Inclusion, and Reparative Archiving, and Yelena Luckert, Director of Research, Teaching, and Learning, serve on the Center’s advisory board and will help leverage the Libraries’ portfolio of programs and services to amplify the impact of Douglass Center initiatives.

The Center’s activities focus on equipping diverse leaders with tools of ethical leadership exemplified by its namesake, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, including inspirational oratory, skilled writing, empathic reading, compassionate diplomacy, attentive image-building, and deep historical and cultural competencies.  

“The aims of the Douglass Center are perfectly aligned with the Libraries’ commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion and to helping people improve their lives and communities through education and research,” said Adriene Lim, Dean of UMD Libraries. “We are proud to partner with our ARHU colleagues to help strengthen ethical and informed leadership in all sectors of our communities.” 

Stephanie Shonekan, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, emphasized the value of the relationship between the Douglass Center and the Libraries: “We believe that ethical and empathetic leaders must be grounded in knowledge and a commitment to democracy and social justice. UMD Libraries is a natural partner because of its position on campus to advance these very values.”

Launched this year, the Douglass Center is led by GerShun Avilez, ARHU’s Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Graduate Education and Strategic Initiatives, and Professor of English. “We are guided by the belief that the grand challenges of our time demand thoughtful, creative, and empathetic leaders who are driven by more than profits and votes,” said Avilez. “We’re encouraged to be joined by the Libraries in this shared belief and we’re looking forward to working with our colleagues to develop and empower the next generation of community and civic leaders with values rooted in the humanities.”

As a partner, UMD Libraries will provide dedicated space in McKeldin Library for the Center’s work, along with technology, programming support, and a gift to to help fund publicly-engaged research projects through the Center’s grant program.

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