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Virginia competing to create regional center

By Sheryl Wade

A consortium of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH), the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech is one of 16 groups in the running to establish a center for the study of regional cultures, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEH awarded the consortium a $50,000 planning grant, enabling them to compete to establish a South Atlantic Regional Center in Charlottesville to serve a geographic area including the Atlantic states and territories from Virginia to the Virgin Islands. The South Atlantic Regional Center will be one of 10 such centers across the country that will focus on preservation and promotion of regional history. NEH chair William R. Ferris envisions each center as "the cultural hub for its region with a mission of broadening public awareness of, access to, and participation in the humanities."

The consortium was awarded an initial grant to plan a center that would explore South Atlantic history and the region's economic and cultural future.

This "region is the historic center for development of the United States," said Robert C. Vaughan, VFH president, who would direct the center if the Virginia consortium wins the larger grant. "The regional center will bring together diverse people and resources of the region to promote education, research and scholarship, and economic development in the South Atlantic," he said.

The center will explore the confrontation between Native Americans and Europeans, the roots of the African slave trade and the effects of various wars, including the Civil War, upon the region, as well as the region's future as a dynamic new economic and cultural center of the United States.

If the Virginia consortium is successful in its bid to win the regional center, it will receive an implementation grant of $5 million which it must match on a 3-to-1 basis, meaning it must raise $15 million over seven years to match the NEH challenge.

The center would be governed by a region-wide advisory board. The VFH would staff the center and provide facilities and administrative support. Working with representatives of the two universities, the staff and advisory board will commit resources to regional work, encourage the development of educational opportunities in regional studies, and explore the broad outlines of future research agendas and public programming.


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