UC Davis Selected as Institutional Partner for Imagining America

Quick Summary

  • The civic-engagement consortium will move its national headquarters to UC Davis in summer 2017
  • Imagining America board unanimously endorsed the partnership with UC Davis
  • The move from Syracuse University is the culmination of a three-year transition process

Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, a civic-engagement consortium of more than 100 academic institutions and cultural organizations, will move its national headquarters from Syracuse University to the University of California, Davis, in the summer of 2017. The university will serve as IA’s hosting partner for a renewable, five-year term.

“Our board unanimously endorsed this partnership,” said Bruce Burgett, chair of IA’s national board and dean, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell. “We were extremely impressed by the breadth of community engagement and public scholarship at UC Davis, and by its deep commitment to equity and inclusion. We share these values of equity and inclusion, and we are excited to begin the next chapter of IA’s work with this partnership.”

IA is dedicated to strengthening the arts, humanities and design in higher education with approaches that foster community partnerships, public scholarship and social equity. Launched in 1999 at a White House conference on the democratic role of arts and humanities, IA was first based at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, before moving to Syracuse University in 2007. Public: A Journal of Imagining America was launched in 2013 as an online, open-access platform for public work in the cultural disciplines.

“We are delighted to be the next home of Imagining America, which has successfully acted as a bridge between scholars and community members interested in the arts, humanities and design,” said Ralph J. Hexter, acting chancellor at UC Davis. “With our mutual goals of civic engagement, we are confident IA and UC Davis will be an exemplary match for years to come.”

With Hexter, Susan Kaiser, interim dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies in the College of Letters and Science at UC Davis, took the lead in pursuing IA.

"From the start, UC Davis and IA felt like a perfect fit,” Kaiser said. “IA aligns with the UC Davis way of working across boundaries. Faculty, students, administrators, and community leaders were very enthusiastic, and we had productive conversations about how the partnership with Imagining America could support our ongoing local and regional efforts. We fully expect the keen interest shown during the planning to continue and grow when IA comes to campus.”

UC Davis’ public-service mission as a land-grant institution, as well as its strength in research and undergraduate education, helped cement the partnership with IA. The university’s interdisciplinary faculty strive to work across fields to facilitate new insights and approaches to understanding the world and serving its region and state. Its student body has continually become more inclusive, with the most diverse class of students welcomed in fall 2015.

“UC Davis has a reputation as an education and research powerhouse in Northern California,” said Scott Peters, a Cornell University land-grant historian and IA faculty co-director. “During the IA team’s site visit, we were floored by the range and energy of democratic work being done at UC Davis. From administrative leaders to regional partners to engaged scholars to student activists, we saw a deep, shared commitment to public engagement as a core value of the university and a measure of its excellence.”

IA’s move to UC Davis is the culmination of a three-year transition process, which began with feedback from the consortium and across higher education about IA’s past and future. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor’s David Scobey, an IA co-founder and former board chair, led the process. More than a dozen institutions representing a range of various academic sectors and regions came forward with interest in partnering with IA.

“We are grateful for the productive 10 years at Syracuse University,” said Tim Eatman, faculty co-director of IA and Syracuse University professor. “We have grown in size and national visibility and have helped strengthen public engagement in Syracuse. Now we look forward to a similarly fruitful partnership at UC Davis, to an increased presence in the west, and to strengthened capacity for national action.”

IA’s move to UC Davis will be celebrated at the consortium’s national conference, Oct. 6-8 at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Media contact(s)

Holly Zahn, Imagining America communications director, 315-491-1787, hjzahn@syr.edu

Jocelyn Anderson, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-752-9607, jocanderson@ucdavis.edu

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Society, Arts & Culture