With the help of a new gift from Albert Lepage ’69 CLAS, the Center will invest in local and national efforts—as well as those within the Villanova community—to engage the public in understanding the stories and effects of the global coronavirus pandemic. The goal is to fund researchers and students whose work brings historical perspective to, or advances understandings of, the COVID-19 virus and its ramifications around the world.
Founded in 2017 and housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Lepage Center is a multifaceted resource for students, teachers, industry, journalists and elected officials that draws upon the past to impart lessons for today’s world. It is made possible through the generosity of Mr. Lepage.
One initiative, the “
” collection project at Villanova University, is already underway. The Lepage Center is supporting Villanova’s Falvey Library’s effort to solicit stories, images, recordings and more from Villanova students, staff, faculty and alumni so that future generations will have original sources of information regarding the lives and times of Villanovans who experienced the global pandemic.
Other initiatives that will be considered are community outreach projects, grants to support COVID-19 historical research, funds that aid teachers at every level in the development and adaptation of courses that analyze all aspects—historical, political, financial, global, social, cultural, literary and more—of the pandemic, as well as projects that connect local and national journalists, the business community, and more.
“Our goal is to use these funds to help support scholars as they engage with the broad range of questions raised by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said public historian Jason Steinhauer, the Center’s director.
A History major at Villanova, Mr. Lepage made a $10 million commitment to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2016 to create a public-facing center devoted to history. It was the largest gift ever made to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“Future generations need to be able to access COVID-19 first-hand experiences in order to better understand its impact on the development of civilization,” said Mr. Lepage. “The Lepage Center’s initiative in this regard will add perspective to the history of the pandemic for generations to come.”
Led by Steinhauer and Elizabeth Kolsky, PhD, interim faculty director, the Center engages the public, policymakers, scholars, teachers and students from history and other fields through academic programs, research, publications and events. In the past three years the Center has hosted historically informed and civic-minded conversations on the ‘fake news’ crisis, the U.S. Civil War, the Holocaust, the Cold War, the state of American Democracy, the fate of democracy around the world, and more.
The Center will fund up to ten projects that creatively engage with the broad range of questions, concerns, policies and practices raised by the study of how past pandemics have affected the course of history and how historical study further public understanding of the current COVID-19 crisis. Individual grant awards will range from $2,500 to $5,000. The deadline for proposals is August 15, 2020. For more information, please visit