Mission and History
Alice Coonley Higgins was the first woman to join Clark's Board of Trustees in 1963; she went on to become the first woman chair of a board of trustees at an American research university, serving Clark in that capacity from 1967 to 1974.
Working with the support of Milton P. Higgins, her lifelong husband and partner, Alice showed remarkable leadership in big, innovative projects that dramatically changed Clark, including the funding and subsequent construction of the Robert Hutchings Goddard Library in 1969.
Independent in thought and spirit, she never failed to show interest in Clark's staff, students and faculty, often through unobtrusive but important acts: tulips and geraniums to beautify the campus, travel money for faculty to attend conferences, book funds for the library, and seed money for numerous projects. In 1986, Alice established an endowment for the Higgins School of Humanities; income from that fund is used to support the School's varied activities.
Founded in 1986, the Higgins School of Humanities works to enhance the intellectual and cultural life of Clark University by fostering connection between the humanities disciplines (English, Foreign Languages, Visual and Performing Arts, Philosophy, and History), by supporting humanities faculty research, and by offering public events to the community.
The Higgins School of Humanities affirms the centrality of the arts and humanities to our lives, and the values of a liberal arts education. It supports teaching and research through its grant programs, and sponsors public events and campus initiatives, enhancing the intellectual and cultural life of the Clark community.
At Clark, we believe that humanistic inquiries and practices are crucial to our development as intellectually curious, socially engaged, and ethically oriented beings. In cultivating the ability to read great texts and artistic forms, to frame analyses and arguments on the most important questions, to speak and listen with open intensity, and to examine our own deepest assumptions, the humanities bring the large questions of value and purpose to life for undergraduates. Learning through the humanities and arts grounds an individual's capacity to engage with societal complexities — by developing historical, cultural, literary, linguistic, and philosophical consciousness, and encouraging empathic and aesthetic ways of knowing.