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Our History

From the first gathering of faculty to discuss a ‘program’ of development, to the building of Hyde Hall as a ‘home’ for the programs, grants, and fellowships generated from it, the story of the Institute would be impossible without the generous support of alumni, staff, leadership, and community dedicated to enriching one of Carolina’s most prized assets: its faculty.



  • Ruel W. Tyson, Jr., professor of Religious Studies, and Gillian T. Cell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, established the Program for the Arts and Humanities. Its early mission: to nurture liberal arts learning and to support faculty excellence. Provost Samuel Williamson designates West House as the Program’s first home.
  • The Program for the Arts and Humanities sponsors the first Autumn Saturday, a colloquium open to the University and the public (1987-1999).


  • The Institute conducts the first Fellows Seminar in the summer.


  • Chancellor Christopher C. Fordham III and the UNC Board of Governors approve The Program for the Arts and Humanities becoming the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Ruel W. Tyson, Jr. is appointed director. He is re-appointed in 1991, 1994, 1997 and 2002.
  • An Advisory Board is created, and Buck Goldstein is elected IAH Advisory Board Chair.


  • The Institute’s first annual lectureship, the Mary Stevens Reckford Memorial Lecture in European Studies, is created.


  • The Institute appoints its first full-time director of development, Mary Flanagan. Faculty/donors annual receptions begin. The University Board of Trustees approves a front campus site (McCorkle Place near Battle/Vance/Pettigrew) for a new building.
  • The Institute initiates a Traveling Fellows program as an outreach initiative. Fellows participate in evenings of conversation in homes of Friends of IAH.
  • The Institute names Cooper, Robertson & Partners of New York City as architects for new building.


  • The Institute assumes responsibility for presenting the annual Weil Lecture on American Citizenship, established at UNC in 1915.


  • Groundbreaking ceremony is held for new building on March 31.
  • Sherwood H. Smith is elected IAH Advisory Board Chair.


  • The Institute inaugurates its Academic Leadership Program for UNC faculty.


  • The construction of Hyde Hall is completed, financed solely with private donations. The dedication is held on University Day, Oct. 12.


  • The IAH successfully completes the Kenan Challenge, a $1 million endowment focusing on faculty retention in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Barbara Hyde is elected chair of the IAH Advisory Board.


  • Ruel Tyson steps down after nearly 20 years at the helm.
  • John McGowan, professor of English, is named director of the Institute.


  • The Institute establishes the George H. Johnson Prize for Distinguished Achievement by an IAH Fellow in honor of George H. Johnson ’58. The prize is awarded biannually to a senior IAH Fellow.
  • From the format of the Academic Leadership Program, the Chairs Leadership Program is developed.
  • John O’Hara succeeds Barbara Hyde as chair of the IAH Advisory Board.
  • IAH Salons launch, bringing together Fellows and community members for intellectual exchange over dinner on topics of interest.


  • The Institute produces its first annual highlights publication and begins production of an e-newsletter that is distributed three times a year.


  • The Institute hosts the inaugural CHAT Festival, a digital arts and humanities festival, in February 2010, attracting nearly 500 participants.


  • IAH establishes the IAH Innovation Fund to foster innovative projects in the arts and humanities by providing funds and logistical support.
  • Julia Grumbles succeeds John O’Hara as chair of the IAH Advisory Board.


  • The IAH celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a special Board dinner in November.
  • Mary Flanagan, Director of Development, steps down after 17 years at the Institute.
  • The Institute collaborates with Carolina Performing Arts to produce The Rite of Spring at 100, a year-long series of courses, performances, visiting artists and scholars, and academic conferences to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s landmark composition.


  • The Institute launches a New Faculty Program for new and recently arrived Carolina faculty in the arts, humanities and social sciences.
  • The IAH creates an Associate Faculty Program and hosts a series of conversations for newly tenured and promoted faculty.


  • Music professor, Mark Katz is named Director of the IAH beginning July 1, replacing John McGowan.
  • The IAH spearheads a campus-wide interdisciplinary “conversation,” the World War I Centenary Project, during the 2014 – 2015 academic year to mark the war’s 100th commeration.
  • The IAH is part of a six-campus Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes to advance the study of medical humanities.
  • Difficult Conversations series begins, providing an open and productive forum for faculty.


  • Caroline Williamson succeeds Julia Grumbles as Chair of the IAH Advisory Board.
  • The IAH creates the Academic Excellence Awards for faculty nominated by College of Arts and Sciences department chairs.


  • The Institute launches a Retired Faculty Program to address the needs of retired faculty.
  • James Moeser, Chancellor Emeritus, is named interim IAH Director while IAH Director Mark Katz takes a research leave.


  • The retention rates for IAH Fellows in the last ten years are 95% for Faculty Fellows and 98% for Academic Leadership Fellows.
  • The IAH wins the National Endowment for the Humanities “Re-Envisioning the Humanities PhD” $25,000 planning grant, which is matched by UNC. The funding is used for a year-long campus-wide conversation on graduate education in the humanities.


  • Ruel W. Tyson, Jr., the Institute’s founder, passes away at 88.
  • Sociology professor Andrew Perrin is named Director of the IAH, replacing Mark Katz.
  • To date, the IAH has supported over 1,000 faculty in our programs.
  • The IAH announces the Race, Memory and Reckoning Initiative to invest $500,000 over the next three years on faculty research, publication, support, education, and outreach on race, reckoning, memory, and opportunity at UNC.


  • IAH launches “Zoom Talks” to continue conversations and promotion of important topics through the lens of the arts and humanities, during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Communication professor Patricia S. Parker is named Director of the IAH, replacing Andy Perrin.