Higher Education
Recent Grants

Higher Education

The creation of new intellectual resources at colleges and universities is a central theme for much of the Luce Foundation’s work, most of which takes place through thematic programs (such as American Art, Asia, or Theology) or special initiatives. From to time to time, grants are also considered for projects that are in keeping with the Foundation’s purposes but fall outside the boundaries of its other activities.


Many of these grants have sought to strengthen the capacity of the higher education sector, in particular by providing leadership training to a range of constituencies. For example, the Foundation has supported the American Council on Education's and the Council of Independent College’s programs for presidents and other senior leaders in higher education.

The Foundation has focused especially on fostering diversity in higher education—not only among college and university leaders but among the professoriate as well. Recently, California State University at Fullerton launched its Leadership Institute for Tomorrow with help from the Luce Foundation. And the Summit of Women Presidents and Chancellors in Higher Education was convened with the Foundation’s support.

This focus on diversity is also consistent with the goals of the Foundation’s Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Program, which seeks to support women in science, technology engineering, and math. And, indeed, some of the Foundation’s higher education grants in recent years have advanced the CBL Program’s goals, like support for the Society of STEM Women of Color and a workshop for women in engineering.


Higher education grants have also addressed the Foundation’s commitment to increase America’s capacity for international understanding. A recent conference at the College of William and Mary, for instance, explored the internationalization of US education. Grants to LaGuardia Community College have sought to develop the international leadership potential of promising heritage language speakers at that institution. And the Association of American Colleges and Universities has organized an initiative on general education in a global century with the Foundation’s assistance.

The 75th anniversary of the Luce Foundation presented an opportunity to provide significant grants to higher education institutions consistent with the Foundation’s historic commitments. A major gift to Yale University provides critical resources to the director of the University’s new Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. And a grant to Ewha Woman’s University in the Republic of Korea supports efforts to expand the global perspective and experience of women scientists.

The 75th anniversary commitments carry forward the Foundation’s long history of support for higher education. The Foundation’s very first grant was to a university—Yenching in China. In 1968, the Foundation launched its groundbreaking Luce Professorships program to encourage academic experimentation and creativity and to support interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The program supported 71 professorships at 56 institutions during 40 years of grantmaking, including, most recently, such diverse institutions as Gettysburg College, Princeton University, Bard College, the University of Denver, and the University of Notre Dame, among others.

Letters of inquiry can be submitted at any time of the year by qualified organizations. There is no category for grants to individuals. Inquiries and questions may be addressed to Mr. Sean Buffington.

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The Foundation’s vice president, Sean T. Buffington, serves as program officer for higher education. Buffington has long experience in higher education, having served most recently as president of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and before that as associate provost at Harvard University.

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