A Successful First Semester for Slattery Center

    The Gail and Francis Slattery Center for Humanities launched the Humanities in Action Lecture Series with a talk by Denis McDonough, former chief of staff to President Obama and current senior principal at the Markle Foundation. From left: McDonough and Gregory Jordan, executive director of the Gail and Francis Slattery Center for Humanities.
    December 11, 2019

    Announced in May, the Gail and Francis Slattery Center for Humanities is completing its first semester with projects that have included the inauguration of the Humanities in Action Lecture Series. Renovations are set to begin this month to the Center’s home, a Victorian mansion on the corner of Mulberry Street and Clay Avenue. 

    Leading the Center’s efforts is its executive director, Gregory Jordan, J.D. A writer, teacher and film producer, Jordan has authored two books, “The Saints are Coming” and “Willie Mays Aikens: Safe at Home.” About the former, acclaimed writer Ron Hansen wrote: “In its psychological complexity, richness of detail, and discerning sympathy for its main characters, ‘The Saints Are Coming’ reads like a novel worthy of Graham Greene.” The latter recounts the life of the man who became the symbol of the racism inherent in America’s drug laws. Filming on “The Royal,” a movie based on his Aikens book and with the screenplay penned by Jordan, was completed in November in Augusta, Georgia. He has written several screenplays that have been optioned by producers in Spain and Los Angeles, collaborated on several books and penned articles for The New York Times, Vox Media and The Hill, among other publications.

    “Our president and our provost, our board and our donors are doubling down on the humanities at the same time many universities are closing shop on them. We intend the Slattery Center to be not some high tower endeavor but a vital venue that will trade in the gritty stuff of personal and professional aspiration. The Slattery Center has certainly been created for the humanities departments and its students, but also for the entire University, for our larger community, for our students and for (their) parents as investors in (their) personhood and professional future,” said Jordan in his opening remarks at the launch of the Humanities in Action Lecture Series. The lecture series was launched in November with a talk by Denis McDonough, former chief of staff to President Obama and current senior principal at the Markle Foundation and chair of its Rework America Task Force.

    A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Jordan received his bachelor’s degree at Williams College and a master’s degree in fine arts from the City University of New York, and a J.D. at Georgetown University. Upon graduating from college, Jordan was the special assistant to Thomas Krens, the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, when Krens developed the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Jordan recently moved to northeast Pennsylvania from Spain with his wife and children to direct the Center.

    The Center is continuing plans for the hallmark speaker series, program development, fellowships and community outreach programs with special emphasis on students.

    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, named after the parents of benefactor and current University Trustee James M. Slattery ’86 and his wife, Betsy, will serve as a national model for humanities in action.


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