Wendy and Eric Schmidt have given $5 million to endow a new Indigenous studies professorship that will build on Princeton University’s “interdisciplinary strengths and expand its faculty expertise in an area of study that is critically important to the University,” according to the university’s announcement on the gift. The announcement goes on to say:

“Eric and I are deeply committed to developing the next generation of leaders and identifying and cultivating talent from all backgrounds — priorities that are closely aligned with Princeton’s,” said Wendy Schmidt, president of The Schmidt Family Foundation. “The thoughtful study of Indigenous cultures is an essential component of society’s reckoning with our own history. It’s our hope that this professorship will play a vital role in advancing that complex conversation and will extend and complement Princeton’s academic and co-curricular activities, including those that engage and amplify the voices of faculty, students and alumni from Indigenous backgrounds.”

The University’s Indigenous scholarship draws faculty from more than 20 academic disciplines from history to American studies, and recent courses range from introductions to Native American and Indigenous studies to classes on Indigenous literatures and languages of the Americas. Princeton has hosted several interdisciplinary conferences that have addressed topics of critical importance for Indigenous peoples, such as the impact of climate change on First Nations communities, and a Princeton website was launched in October in response to growing interest in Indigenous scholarship and to curate resources for faculty and students.

The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Professor of Indigenous Studies will catalyze and unite conversations on indigeneity across disciplines and engage other faculty and students in a broad dialogue. Endowed professorships are Princeton’s highest academic honor for faculty members, bestowed on distinguished professors who combine groundbreaking research with an exceptional ability to inspire students.

Read the entire announcement.