When “The Millennium Chair” was established, the donors, Bill and Gail Plater, worked at IUPUI and wished their gift to be known as the Millennium Chair until long after they’d retired. The time has come to acknowledge their generosity by allowing this endowed chair to be known as the “William M. and Gail M. Plater Faculty Chair of Liberal Arts.”
The Platers have long believed that IUPUI is uniquely poised among urban campuses in the country to make substantive contributions in higher education. New technologies and pedagogies, as yet undiscovered, have the greatest chance for development and practice in this environment. Bill and Gail believe that the future of education, at all levels, lies in the institution’s willingness to experiment with new ways of approaching traditional subjects, as well as discovering new areas of study through an interdisciplinary approach and connecting learning with the life of the community.
The first holder of the chair was Anthony “Tony” Sherrill, professor of Religious Studies and director of the Center for American Studies. A noted scholar and valued colleague in the School of Liberal Arts, Dr. Sherrill led a vibrant team of interdisciplinary studies, during his tenure. Upon his passing in 2003, a national search was undertaken to fill the vacant position. A provision of the chair is that it be appointed according to the School of Liberal Arts’ needs, thus it is intended to “float” among disciplines.
Following a national search, Dr. Edward E. Curtis IV, was appointed as the second, and current holder of the named chair. Curtis, the award-winning author and editor of 13 books and publicly engaged scholar of Muslim American and Arab American history and life and Africana religions, recently launched the community storytelling platform, Arab Indianapolis, which explores the contributions of Arab-descended people to central Indiana. His innovative work and scholarship, engaging an underserved community, has expanded the reach of the acclaimed department of Religious Studies at IUPUI. The chair he has held since his arrival at IUPUI will henceforth be known as the William M. and Gail M. Plater Faculty Chair of Liberal Arts.
Dr. Curtis shares his appreciation for the generosity of the Platers, “I am proud to be associated with Bill and Gail Plater who pioneered and modeled the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI’s tradition of community-engaged research and teaching.”
The Dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts, Tamela Eitle, commented, “We are excited to recognize the Plater’s gift and thank them for their support in advancing the role of the liberal arts in an urban community-engaged research institution.”