Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2009 Newsletter

Director's Note

Portrait of Thomas F. Staley

Thomas F. Staley

This month, the Ransom Center is launching a $15 million capital campaign. The campaign is critical to our success and will enable the Center to continue to reach for excellence in all areas. Culture is dynamic, and an institution dedicated to the study of culture must evolve and reflect the changes of the time. In this new century, the Ransom Center must continue to expand its collections, enhance its curatorial capacity, create additional opportunities for scholarship, develop new exhibitions and programs, and increase its technological capabilities to bring its collections to ever widening audiences. Our campaign is structured to enhance areas that need attention and to maintain and elevate our strengths.

Clearly one of the great challenges we face in this campaign is the difficult economic climate. We are all aware of the devastating effects of the economy on universities and cultural institutions around the world. The Ransom Center can provide a countervailing force in this environment. As support for the humanities decreases nationwide, the Ransom Center will strive all the harder to preserve our culture and enrich the communities we serve. Furthermore, the economic climate has created an abundance of opportunity. We are being inundated with offers of important collections, and prices are down considerably. With the necessary resources, the Center could substantially enhance its collections, hearkening back to the best days of Harry Ransom.

Aware of the challenges before us, we nevertheless launch this campaign with confidence and excitement. We have named our campaign "Culture Unbound: An Investment in Discovery," and its success will help the Ransom Center become an even more vital place. As we move forward with the campaign, we are grateful for the support of our Advisory Council and our other friends and donors.

Before closing, I would like to acknowledge two of our greatest supporters. Elizabeth Perkins Prothro, who died in May, was among the first people I met when I came to Texas. From the beginning, the generosity of Elizabeth and Charles, her husband, was nothing short of tremendous. We will remember them every time we walk into our gallery and theater, which bear the Prothro name. Fleur Cowles, founder of Flair magazine, died in June at the age of 101. Fleur and her husband, Tom Meyer, established the Fleur Cowles Endowment, which has supported the work of more than 50 graduate interns, an internationally recognized biennial symposium, acquisitions, fellowships, and the Fleur Cowles Room, which embodies Fleur's "flair" for life. We are deeply grateful to Fleur and Tom for their enthusiasm, dedication, and remarkable support over the years.  

—Thomas F. Staley

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