Bard College has received a $50m dollar endowment gift that will be used to reshape Indigenous Studies efforts at the school. The money—matching $25m gifts from the Gochman Family Foundation, with an additional $25m matching commitment from George Soros and the Open Society Foundations—will allow the university to launch a Center for Indigenous Studies as well as create an appointment for an Indigenous Curatorial Fellow at its Center for Curatorial Studies.
The school’s American Studies programme—which will now contain the Center for Indigenous Studies—will be renamed the American and Indigenous Studies programme. The money will also support efforts to increase enrollment from under-represented groups, including Native American and Indigenous communities, through scholarship funds. These initiatives are all being developed in partnership with Forge Project, an upstate New York-based organisation focused on Indigenous art and education.
Candice Hopkins, the executive director of Forge Project, will join the Center for Curatorial Studies as the inaugural fellow in Indigenous Art History and Curatorial Studies. In addition to teaching and leading archival acquisitions, Hopkins will curate a large exhibition on contemporary Native art.
“This gift represents institutional change, which has been building at Bard and is core to the vision of Forge Project. These lands are layered with histories that are inextricably bound by the displacement and forced removal of Indigenous peoples, yet also rich with knowledge,” Hopkins said in a statement. “This gift provides the basis for the future building of this knowledge, to shift and expand discourses across fields of study, whether it be in Indigenous and American studies, art history, or curatorial practice. Critically, it also centres the needs of Indigenous students, reducing barriers to higher education, and recognizes that students want to attend programmes where they see their interests reflected.”