On Dec. 6, the Rutgers University Board of Governors approved the creation of the Clement A. Price Chair in Public History and the Humanities. The chair is named in honor of the late Clement A. Price, a Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor and beloved history scholar at Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) who passed away in November 2014. A $2 million challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional donations totaling $1 million from corporations, foundations, alumni, and numerous other individuals endowed the chair to honor the legacy and life’s work of Price.
In addition to being an RU-N professor, mentor, and advisor for more than 40 years, Price served as the founding director of the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience (IECME), which RU-N renamed posthumously the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience. Since its inception, IECME has become a model of public scholarship and engagement, sponsoring numerous programs and research initiatives that foster broad public discussion on the arts and culture, urban life and development, diversity and race relations, education, and history at the local, national, and international levels.
Price also co-founded, with the late Giles Wright, the annual Marion Thompson Wright (MTW) Lecture Series, the oldest, largest, and most prestigious Black History Month event in New Jersey. The MTW Series has brought some of the nation’s most prominent scholars of African-American history to Newark, including Annette Gordon-Reed, Deborah Willis, Sterling Stuckey, Eric Foner, Lonnie Bunch, David Blight, and Nell Painter.
In 2014, the City of Newark appointed Price as its official historian. His many other leadership roles included positions with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Fund for New Jersey, the Save Ellis Island Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Newark Education Trust, the advisory council for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Scholarly Advisory Committee to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, and more.
“With the visionary support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the generosity of numerous contributors, the Price Chair will attract a high-impact, senior scholar who will play multi-faceted roles as researcher, mentor, catalyst, and collaborator,” said Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “This public humanist will not only lead the Price Institute, but play a pivotal role in catalyzing the formation of a robust community of scholars, working across disciplines, engaging community partners, and mentoring junior scholars, doctoral students, and post-doctoral fellows to sustain and strengthen the next generation of public humanists. I can think of no more fitting and enduring tribute to our beloved Clem.”
Recognizing that public history and the humanities play a central role in the civic vitality and health of the United States, and especially in the continued revitalization of legacy cities like Newark, the Price Chair will partner broadly in producing cross-disciplinary scholarship that informs the difficult challenges facing communities. Placing current events in a historical context in the manner of the MTW Lecture Series and other RU-N-sponsored symposia, the Price Chair will promote and facilitate discourse in heated and complex arenas of social relations that help define the health and well-being of a community. Moreover, the holder will help cultivate the next generation of scholars, civic leaders, and citizens to further RU-N’s commitment to engage locally and collaboratively on scholarship that resonates globally.
The search to fill the Price Chair will begin imminently.