University Establishes Humanities Center on Campus

    Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., president of The University of Scranton, announced the establishment of the Gail and Francis Slattery Center for Humanities to advance the University’s liberal arts tradition and enhance the core role it plays in the formation of students to become “men and women for others.” The Center will serve as a national model for humanities in action.
    May 9, 2019

    University of Scranton President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., announced the establishment of the Gail and Francis Slattery Center for Humanities, which will be housed in a grand Victorian home on the corner of Mulberry Street and Clay Avenue. The Center will advance the University’s liberal arts tradition and enhance the core role it plays in the formation of students to become “men and women for others.” The Center will serve as a national model for humanities in action.

    “From the very beginning, Jesuit education has been – and continues to be – firmly grounded in the humanities. The earliest Jesuit schools developed their pedagogy based on adapting Italian Renaissance humanism, which used literature to understand the essence of what it meant to be a human being,” said Father Pilarz. “Nearly 500 years later, this tradition of education rooted in the humanities continues today at Jesuit colleges throughout the world and at The University of Scranton.”

    The Center is named after the parents of benefactor and current University Trustee James M. Slattery ’86 and his wife, Betsy, of Peach Tree City, Georgia.

    “It struck Betsy and I that places like Scranton are special because they are Jesuit and as such, the humanities need to be lived and promoted and not merely viewed as a check box on a curriculum. Because in reality, as a working-class undergrad, my experience in these classes opened up ideas, worlds and possibilities to me that I had not before imagined,” said James Slattery. “Our commitment to Catholic education comes from a lifetime of gratitude to our parents. For me, it comes from Gail and Frank Slattery.”

    Betsy Slattery is an active community volunteer. James Slattery, chief operating officer of North America for Melrose PLC, earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University. He has been active with the University’s President’s Business Council (PBC) and served as chair of the PBC Annual Award Dinner in 2013. The $1 million gift from the Slatterys to support the Humanities Center was announced by Father Pilarz at his Inauguration Ceremony in Sept. of 2018.

    “I wish to thank Jim and Betsy for all they do to support the transformative education we provide at Scranton: for their leadership and guidance; for their service with the President’s Business Council; and for their generous support of the Humanities Center at the University. Because of your vision, generations of students to come will have reason to thank you both as well,” said Father Pilarz.

    The Center will create a Humanities Scholars program for students to provide scholarship support to a select group of humanities majors, who will participate in a series of special seminars and classes, in addition to learning about career opportunities in the corporate, non-profit and government sectors. The Center will also establish: a Humanities Forum to sponsor lectures from prominent speakers and related events; a digital humanities laboratory; Artist-in-Residence and Scholar-in-Residence programs; and support faculty scholarships in the humanities. Through its programs, elevated discourse on an array of topics and civic engagement will be encouraged by members of the University community, as well as by residents throughout the greater Scranton area.

    The Center will be developed from a foundation established by the Humanities Initiative, a group of faculty in the humanities working closely with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences who have already established a variety of important activities to encourage increased recognition of the humanities on campus.

    Also speaking at the ceremony were Thomas MacKinnon, vice president for university advancement, Jeff Gingerich, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs; and Yamile Silva, Ph.D., chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures.

    The Gail and Francis Slattery Center for Humanities will open in the fall 2019 semester in the residence hall currently named The McGowan House. Blair House, located next to the Center, will be renamed The McGowan House in honor of the late Msgr. Andrew McGowan H’82. Programmatic activity for the Center for Humanities will primarily take place in a renovated area of St. Thomas Hall.



    Betsy and James Slattery

    Betsy Slattery is an active community volunteer and stay-at-home mother of their three sons. She attended Miami University of Ohio and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica. With a background in marketing, she has worked in international sales for DAP Products, Inc. and in development for CollegeBound Foundation in Baltimore. She volunteers at her sons’ schools and church, and enjoys painting and playing tennis.

    James M. Slattery is the chief operating officer of North America for Melrose, PLC, a London-based company that buys, improves and sells companies that manufacture highly engineered products. Melrose is traded on the London stock exchange. Previously, he was chief financial officer for McKechnie Aerospace. He was also chief financial officer for 180s, Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse, and DAP Products, Inc. He was also a controller for Wassall, PLC. He began his career with Coopers and Lybrand. He holds a bachelor of science in accounting from the University, where he is a member of the President’s Business Council and one of the founding group of alumni that started the Scranton Club of New York Scholarship in the early 1990’s. In 2013, he served as dinner chairman for the President’s Business Council’s annual award dinner. He joined the University’s Board of Trustees in 2015.

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