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2011-2013 “Big IDEA:” Exploring the University’s Relationship to Slavery


The IDEA Fund’s inaugural “Big IDEA” was to enhance public knowledge of the University’s early history as it relates to slavery. Led by former Trustee Chair, Tierney Fairchild, this initiative sought to fill the gap in institutional knowledge and acknowledgement about the University’s relationship to slavery, thereby enhancing public understanding of the University’s early life.

Since launching this Big IDEA in 2011, we have seen a foundation of support grow at the University for exploring and understanding its relationship to slavery, exemplifying the IDEA Fund’s wish that promotion of a Big IDEA lead to a more thorough integration of its values into the fabric of the University as a whole. Recent and rewarding evidence of this is the forming of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, on which the IDEA Fund has a seat, and their 2014 symposium, “Universities Confronting the Legacy of Slavery.” This Big IDEA was approached from many angles and through various projects, including: