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(L-R) Lee Bynum, Program Associate, Diversity Initiatives; Associate Director, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, Dr. David Wilson, President, Morgan State University, Dr. Armando Bengochea, Program Officer, and Director, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, Dr. Pamela Scott-Johnson, Interim Dean, Morgan State University College of Liberal Arts. (Courtesy Photo)

Morgan State University President David Wilson announced on June 30 that the University had been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The award will be used over three years to fund the establishment of the Benjamin A. Quarles Humanities and Social Science Institute as an addition to Morgan’s liberal arts program.

Both Morgan President David Wilson and Liberal Arts Dean Dr. Pamela Scott-Johnson believe the addition of the Quarles Institute is necessary in order to broaden their student’s horizons and boost enrollment.

“The Institute will focus on students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels…We will focus on increasing the number of African American faculty and faculty of African descent who are engaged in scholarly research and teaching humanities and social sciences on Historically Black College and University campuses.” said Dr. Pamela Scott- Johnson in a statement.

The Institute will feature several disciplines including Environmental Studies, International Studies, Women’s studies, Ethnomusicology, Philosophy, Fine Arts and a wide variety of other Liberal Arts subjects and is planned to promote the knowledge for the cultures of the African Diaspora and introduce students who may be aware of the importance of a Liberal Arts education to the value of such a discipline.

The AFRO-American Newspaper played a large role in making the expansion of the Liberal Arts program possible. “The AFRO covers the African Diaspora within the construct of regional and national history and can thus provide primary resources for research” said AFRO Chairman/Publisher John Oliver Jr. in a statement.  “The AFRO will make available archivist Jazette Marshburn to work directly with Morgan students and faculty in examining parallel development of the AFRO and Morgan, providing subjects for research, and giving the students firsthand experience in digitizing archives”. The AFRO has been involved with the Mellon foundation previously and was included in a grant awarded John’s Hopkins University that included Morgan students and faculty as well as the newspaper archives provided by the AFRO.

“The Mellon investment in Morgan…will ensure that we continue to tackle those issues in our society that stretch our minds, challenge our biases and broaden our perspectives on the issues so essential to our nation’s vitality and competitiveness,” said University President Wilson in a statement.  “The Humanities and Social Sciences are the core of innovation, creativity and understanding of the human condition. These are the disciplines that give rise to critical thinking and they must always be strong on our campuses”.

The new institute will be named after Dr. Benjamin A. Quarles, a Morgan State University alumni, who is a renowned writer, historian, and scholar focusing on Black History. Morgan State hopes to continue his legacy and through this new establishment provide its students with the opportunity to learn more about Black culture and the African Diaspora.

“The faculty of the college of Liberal Arts decided that because Quarles taught here and was dedicated to teaching about African American studies and the Diaspora the new establishments and the classes taught there should serve that same purpose…the goal is to excite students about humanities and social sciences and improve the percent of students retained by the University” said one Morgan State official. Morgan State hopes to continue Quarles’s legacy and through this new establishment provide its students with the opportunity to learn more about African American culture and the African Diaspora.