CWU News

NEH Grant to Fund New Faculty Positions and Ethics Lab at CWU

Central Washington University’s College of Arts and Humanities will add six new faculty positions and CWU Libraries will have a historian-archivist for the upcoming academic year after they were awarded a $257,000 grant from the National Endowment of Humanities (NEH). 

The grant, which also will fund the development of a new CWU EthicsLab, became available this spring through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A total of $40.3 million dollars was distributed to roughly 300 institutions across the country, and only 14 percent of the proposals submitted were successful. Higher education institutions received just 18.6 percent of the NEH funds. 

“It’s such an honor to be selected, and to be selected out of the universities that applied,” said Jill Hernandez, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, who co-wrote the proposal along with Rebecca Lubas, dean of CWU Libraries. “We didn’t know how long it would be before we could hire the people we needed, so this grant is a huge bright spot this quarter. It’s very exciting.”

The joint project will advance CWU’s digital humanities scholarship, archival work, and pedagogy by funding the historian-archivist position at CWU Libraries, plus six new humanities faculty positions for the 2020-21 academic year. The EthicsLab is an interdisciplinary, public humanities space that will be the first of its kind in the Northwest. The Brooks Library space will feature a digital scholarship lab that will look for innovative approaches to real-world ethical dilemmas. 

Hernandez and Lubas hope the partnership will ensure that CWU students and community partners can bring a collaborative, team-based approach to 21st century challenges.

“The grant will nurture the collaboration between the College of Arts and Humanities and the libraries, allowing our students to engage with today’s most pressing ethical questions in new ways, in and out of the classroom,” Lubas said.

The hiring process for the six humanities faculty positions is underway, while the historian-archivist is already working on campus in a non-tenured position. Each of these efforts is expected to contribute to the long-term success of the university.

“This proposal is a true representation of 21st century humanities education,” Hernandez said. “It’s public-facing and it will help us engage with what’s happening in the world. We’re already doing this, but a grant this size is going to create a lot of future opportunities for our students.”

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,