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CSU Fullerton receives federal challenge grant

The National Endowment for the Humanities grant supports the university’s Center for Oral and Public History

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: December 21, 2011 03:05 PM

Center for Oral and Public History
Director Natalie Fousekis
The National Endowment for the Humanities has provided a $425,000 challenge grant to Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) in support of the school’s relocation and expansion of the Center for Oral and Public History (COPH). The terms of the grant require that CSUF raise $3 for every $1 of grant funding, which means that the school will have to raise approximately $1.3 million from other sources in order to receive the full amount of the challenge grant.

National Humanities Medalist and American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow Jacquelyn Dowd Hall congratulated CSUF on the award, describing it as a “resounding vote of confidence in the Center for Oral and Public History.”

“COPH already is among the best programs in the nation. With this grant, it is poised to make a major leap forward,” said Hall, who is also the former director of the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Once it has secured the archival and learning space it needs, it will be second to none in preserving the priceless stories of the past and pioneering new ways of using these stories in teaching and learning, both within and beyond the university.”

The school’s Center for Oral and Public History houses a growing collection of interviews, augmented by interviews collected by students enrolled in the university’s oral history program on a diversity of subjects: Orange County’s community history, women in World War II and Native American Urbanization are all subjects covered in numerous interviews in the Center’s archives. The COPH embarked on a new project supported by the Orange County Great Park Corp. in 2007; the interviews from the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station Oral History Project have also been added to the Center’s collections.

The COPH’s growing archives and collections have outgrown their current 5,600-square-foot home.

Plans for the new Center call for raising $3.5 million in total to support the relocation and expansion. Natalie Fousekis, director of the COPH, says the fundraising campaign for the move and expansion is already underway. The plan in place calls for the Center to relocate to the sixth floor of Pollak Library on campus, which would double its current size.

“Our location limits our collection and preservation efforts, and is a poor space to house project staff, interns, volunteers and the rapidly expanding body of students taking courses and serving as researchers and curators on our projects,” Fousekis said. “Moving COPH to the new space will allow the Center to better carry out its humanities-based mission of collecting the important individual stories of Southern California, educating its students in oral and public history and bringing these regional, national and global stories to the public.”

The new 10,709-square-foot location for the Center will include a student project room for collaborative projects; a climate-controlled archival space for processing items in the Center’s collections; a conference room, which can also be used for exhibition space; and an expanded student reading room and offices for staff members.

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