Humanities Division to Elevate the Study of South Asian Art and Media

Dr. Afzal and Dr. Shireen Ahmad

UChicago’s Division of the Humanities launches a new visiting professorship in South Asian Art and Media in 2025‒2026 thanks to generous funding from Dr. Shireen and Dr. Afzal Ahmad. Their $1.5 million gift will provide for a visiting professor for one quarter annually, expanding the university’s visibility and expertise in South Asian art.

“The Ahmad’s gift will bring new attention to the visual arts and media of South Asia,” said Deborah L. Nelson, Dean of the Division of the Humanities and Helen B. and Frank L. Sulzberger Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and the College at UChicago. “Hiring a faculty member of great distinction will enhance our already top departments in South Asian Languages and Cultures, Art History, and Cinema and Media Studies and bring them into closer partnership.”

News on Gifts

Anastasia Giannakidou

Gift Amount: $1.25 million

Funds for: Division of the Humanities at UChicago, the Center for Hellenic Studies,

Summary: The Alexander S. Pissios Family Foundation Fund for Teaching of the Greek Language gave $1.25 million to support the study of Greek language at UChicago. This generous gift is supported by Alexander Pissios, UChicago College ‘26 parent. This gift will support the overall teaching of the Greek language in support of the Division of Humanities and the Center for Hellenic Studies.

Impact of the Gift: "What unifies Greek identity through time and space is the Greek language, which presents a rich repertoire of continuous, unbroken tradition that stretches back for more than three thousand years. The generous gift will allow the Center for Hellenic Studies to continue offering Modern Greek at the University of Chicago, extend its academic initiatives, and further its engagement with the historical Greek community in Chicago by supporting the teaching of Modern Greek, which is currently a small minority language is the U.S. in need of revitalization. At the UChicago, we want to offer an interdisciplinary forum for students and faculty who want to study the rich Hellenic tradition within the unified framework of Hellenic Studies. We hope to be able to establish a dialogue between disciplines in the direction of illuminating how relevant and useful Greek ideas continue to be today, and how transformative it is to study them as we address major current problems in society and try to find solutions.”—Anastasia Giannakidou, founder and inaugural director of the Center for Hellenic Studies and the Frank J. McLoraine Professor in the Department of Linguistics at UChicago

The Berlins Endow New Chair for Assistant Professor in English Language and Literature

Timothy Harrison

Compelled to make the humanities relevant to UChicago students’ lives, Timothy Harrison focuses on creating and nurturing an intellectual community—within and outside the classroom. For his scholarship and his engagement with students, Harrison received the inaugural Chair for the Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Assistant Professor of Renaissance and Early Modern English Literature: Masterpieces from 1500–1700.

“By every measure of scholarship, pedagogy, collegiality, service, and impact, Tim is worthy of this named professorship,” said Anne Walters Robertson, Dean of the Division of the Humanities and the Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music. “He brings great distinction to the Division of the Humanities, and I am delighted that we now have this public recognition of his accomplishments.”

UChicago Library Becomes Home to 2,700 Vintage Photographs by Vivian Maier

Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

The University of Chicago Library has received more than 2,700 vintage prints by celebrated photographer Vivian Maier, few of which have ever been published or displayed. Collector John Maloof made the donation to the UChicago Library, where they will be preserved and made accessible to researchers in the Special Collections Research Center. The gift includes more than 1,200 black-and-white and 1,400 color prints that Maier made, ranging from her travels around the world to her street photography in Chicago that has received widespread critical acclaim. Because Maier chose to make the prints herself, the collection provides a rare glimpse into her creative process and the photos to which she was drawn.