Recently, Andrew Morris, Associate Professor of History, was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.Among the most competitive academic awards in the country, the fellowships support advanced research in the humanities, allowing recipients to produce articles, books, digital materials or other scholarly resources. The acceptance rate of the proposals accepted for this endowment stands at seven percent, which indicates the rigor of the program immensely. Morris joined Union back in 2003.
The National Endowment for the Humanities provides grants for high quality humanities projects to cultural institutions such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public stations and radio stations.
The agency was created in 1965 under the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, which also included the National Endowment for the Arts and later the Institute for Museum Services, as a move to provide greater investment in culture by the federal government.
National Endowment for the Humanities was based upon recommendation of the National Commission on the Humanities, convened in 1963 with representatives from three U.S. scholarly and educational associations.
Morris will use his grant to continue work on a book about Hurricane Camille and the transformation of American disaster relief policy, while briefly shedding light on the political regime of President Richard Nixon.
On Aug. 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi coast, leaving a path of death and destruction. The Category 5 storm, one of the strongest ever to make landfall in the U.S., killed more than 140 in the Gulf Coast region and leveled thousands of homes and buildings.
Disaster assistance was slow to arrive and criticism over the response helped lead to the 1970 Disaster Relief Act, which made permanent the expansion of a number of federal disaster assistance programs that had been pioneered in limited form in the late 1960s.
“The federal law also widened the scope of federal assistance to individual disaster victims, moving beyond the long-standing federal role in reconstruction of public facilities,” Morris said.
He has been working on research related to the history of disaster relief since 2009. He eventually decided to focus the book on Hurricane Camille because of its historic significance.
The fellowship will allow him to take off spring term of 2018 to work on the manuscript. He plans to have the book ready by 2019 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the devastating storm.
Morris’s project is among 290 humanities-based research projects in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to receive a combined $16.3 million in the latest round of funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Giving insight into the process of submitting proposals for individual research, Morris shared, “First, you have to describe your project in detail. Then you have to elaborate on your research plans, the timeline for your research plan and then prove to the committee that the research plan, if implemented, is realistic. Once, you’re done with this, a committee sits and reviews all the applications. They pick a couple of the best ones and recommend them to the National Endowment for the Humanities for the grants.”
Morris also shared that he applied several times to this fellowship, and was awarded a summer fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2014 as well.
“I was delighted to get the news of the fellowship. Receiving one is not only great financial and moral support, but it’s an affirmation of the significance of the project. It complements the generous support for the project that I’ve received from the College’s Humanities Faculty Research Fund as well as from the Department of History.”
Morris indicated at the fact at the news reports coming in this past week stating that the newly-elected administration might be looking into either closing down the National Endowment for the Humanities or limiting their funding. “It is very worrisome to hear of such news. Such an development is definitely not good for the country, specifically for professors, researchers and high school teacher,” noted Morris.