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Center for Western Studies Receives $300,000 Challenge Grant

SIOUX FALLS – Augustana College’s Center for Western Studies is the recipient of a $300,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The grant provides a 4:1 match for gifts to the Center’s $1.2 million endowment campaign.

The goal of the campaign is to create ongoing funds to support the Center’s Archives and Library Program; the annual Dakota Conference on the Northern Plains; Art Programs and Exhibits; the Publications Program and the Fantle Building Fund. To date, the Center has received more than $429,000 in gifts and pledges.

The NEH announced $15.7 million in grants to 248 organizations in December 2008. The Center is one of only two organizations in South Dakota awarded a grant. By offering diverse and competitive grant opportunities to scholars and museum curators as well as to libraries and cultural organizations, NEH strives to promote excellence and lifelong learning in the humanities.

“As an archive, research library, museum, and South Dakota’s largest academic publisher, the Center is an important tool for the college and the region,” Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities Bruce Cole said. “We are delighted to be a funding partner in this exciting endeavor, and I hope others will join us in supporting the enrichment of the humanities in America.”

According to Cole, the Center’s Dakota Conference, a national conference on the Northern Plains, especially impressed the panelists who lauded it for the important contribution it makes by involving academic and lay historians. The Center’s challenge grant has been given a “We the People” designation by the NEH. The designation recognizes the Center’s efforts to strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture.

“We are grateful to the NEH for joining us in our vision to strengthen the Center for Western Studies, a center of excellence at Augustana and in the region,” President Rob Oliver said. “Thank you to our friends who have already supported this endeavor. We encourage others to join with us and help us meet the $1.2 million goal.”

The mission of the Center for Western Studies is preserving and interpreting the history and cultures of the Northern Plains. The Center is located in the Fantle Building at 2121 S. Summit Avenue. It includes an archive, research library, permanent exhibits, and three galleries featuring regional art exhibits. Admission is free. The Center hosts annual events, including the Artists of the Plains Art Show & Sale, the Dakota Conference on the Northern Plains, and a historical dinner-theater event. A signature event is the Boe Forum on Public Affairs, bringing national and international speakers to the region.

For information about the Center’s programs, please contact Dr. Harry Thompson, director of research collections and publications and NEH grant project director, at 605-274-4007. For more information about giving opportunities to the endowment campaign and NEH match, please contact Paul Krueger, director of development, at 605-274-4912.