Hall Center for Humanities director retiring from KU

From: Simon Atkinson, Vice Chancellor for Research
Sent: Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, 11:01 a.m.
To: Deans, directors and department chairs


I am writing with news of a leadership change in the KU research community. Richard Godbeer, director of the Hall Center for the Humanities, is retiring from the University of Kansas, effective today. He has led the intellectual hub for humanities scholars and its robust public outreach program for just over three years.

I’m grateful to Richard for advancing a compelling vision for the Hall Center as a place for humanists to engage with one another and with community on the most difficult questions of our day. He made sure that work continued — and even broadened its reach — as the pandemic forced activities online.
We expect to announce an interim director for the center soon.

Under Richard’s leadership, the Hall Center expanded research support for faculty and students, launched a new speaker series featuring recently published work by KU humanities scholars, and built partnerships with other institutions, most recently becoming a sponsor of the National Humanities Center. During the pandemic, the center leveraged online platforms to reach new audiences far beyond Lawrence with a broad range of public programming. In 2021, the Hall Center secured a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a digital storytelling project that brings together more than 40 community and KU-based partners.

The center also collaborated with the Office of Research to launch the KU Racial Equity Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity Awards and joined both the Office of Research and the Center for Faculty Development & Mentoring to support the Public Scholars Group. Now in its second year, the group prepares KU scholars to use mechanisms such as op-eds and podcasts to foster informed, constructive dialogue with the broader public.

“Serving as director of this remarkable center, benefiting from the creativity and hard work of all those who preceded me, working with the Hall Center’s amazing staff to sustain our mission during the pandemic, and having the opportunity to imagine the Hall Center’s future has been a highlight of my career,” Richard said. “As I step away from my responsibilities, I feel deep gratitude and wish the humanities community across and beyond KU all the very best.”

In addition to directing the Hall Center, Richard served as the Charles W. Battey Distinguished Professor in the Department of History. His research focuses on witchcraft, religious culture, gender, and sexuality in colonial and revolutionary North America — topics that have fueled his authorship of six books. Before joining KU in 2019, Richard had been the founding director of the Humanities Research Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Please join me in thanking Richard for his enthusiastic leadership and wishing him all the best in his retirement.
Simon Atkinson
Vice Chancellor for Research