New Direction for the Institute for the Humanities at Salado


    The 37-year-old Institute for the Humanities at Salado is undergoing an important change. The Institute will keep its name, and remain an independent non-profit organization, but it will come under new management. Beginning Oct. 1, the Institute will be governed by a board associated with the Salado Museum & College Park organization.

    The seeds of the new direction were planted last year. With diminishing funds available for the lectures and other activities the Institute was known for, the board sought to partner with another organization that was active and growing and could provide new energy and leadership to the organization. When the opportunity to partner with the Salado Museum and College Park presented itself, the board jumped on it believing that this was a wonderful opportunity that would benefit both groups.

    This partnership will give the Institute a permanent home and an outlet for additional programs. The Salado Museum and College Hill organization currently has many exciting activities as well as plans for the future that will complement the Institute's mission.

    Select members from the Museum board plus three former Institute board members will comprise the new Institute board. They are Sara Mackie Shull, president, Sterling Ambrose, vice-president, Pat Suggs, treasurer, and Beverly Turnbo, secretary. The additional board members are Vic Means, Coleman Hampton, Cele Cowen, Jane Wilmer and Debra Brock. Day to day operations will be handled by Salado Museum Executive Director and Curator Madeleine Calcote.

    The Salado Institute for the Humanities began in 1980 when Dr. Wilmer, his wife, Jane, and a small number of like-minded citizens, founded the Institute to create a public forum to discuss important issues. The idea behind the Institute was to explore ideas and educate participants about the broad range of humanities topics-- that is, anything that had to do with being human.

    The first lecture was in 1981. Subsequently, the Institute gained a national reputation for its programs featuring world renowned scholars, writers, artists and scientists who presented lectures and seminars to members and the public. Other programs of the included seminars and lecture/discussions and special events such as trips, tours, workshops and weekend-long symposia on topics of major interest.

    The Institute also sponsored the Wilmer Memorial Lecture, an annual gift to the community by the Wilmer family and friends to commemorate the lives of Harry Wilmer and his son, Hank Wilmer.

    With the reorganization of the Institute, the Wilmer family and the Institute Board chose to end the Wilmer lecture series. In order to give back to the community in a different way, the remaining endowed funds from the Wilmer Lectureship will fund The Wilmer Scholarship for students in the Salado public schools, administered by the Salado Education Foundation. The 20th and final Wilmer lecture was held in April and the Wilmer scholarship will begin next year.

    During the last 37 years, the Institute has educated and entertained thousands with its yearly lectures, workshops, symposia and other programs. There have been Institute programs on such topics as evil, dreams, creativity, stories, the cosmos, and technology, to name just a few. The symposium on evil, which drew such luminaries as Rollo May, Maya Angelou, and M. Scott Peck, was filmed by Bill Moyers and made into a documentary for PBS. The programs were varied in their approach, but the Institute's core value was to present outstanding speakers who could challenge audience members to think beyond the every day.

    Institute programs were designed to convey stories, ideas and information about the history, literature and values that are the human story. Since Liz Carpenter's inaugural lecture, more than 275 of the country's leading scholars, Nobel Laureates, writers, scientists, entertainers, educators, artists and leaders have come to Salado to share their knowledge. Some of the many prominent, past speakers include: Linus Pauling, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Story Musgrave, Denton Cooley; Linus Pauling, Albert Sabin, Seth Shostak, Michael Collins, Dean Radin, Michio Kaku, Ilya Prigogine, M. Scott Peck, Maya Angelou, John Kenneth Galbraith, Edward Albee, Horton Foote, Hon. James A. Baker, Rep. Barbara Jordan, Liz Carpenter, Admiral Bobby Inman, Sen. Bill Bradley, T.R. Fehrenbach, H.W. Brands, Betty Sue Flowers, Thomas Moore, Stephen Harrigan, Robert Bly, Lee Marvin, and Robert Carradine among many, many others.