Emeritus Professor of History Harold Greer, Jr., Ph.D. and his wife, Laura, who is also a retired faculty member, have generously pledged $1,000,000 to endow the Dr. and Mrs. Harold Greer Jr. Distinguished Professorship in Latin American History. The Greer’s gift is the largest single gift ever to the College from living donors. The gift provides for a new faculty member with an appointment in History who will teach in the Department of History and also conduct interdisciplinary research and potentially introduce and teach new cross-listed courses.
Dr. and Mrs. Greer have been a part of the VCU community for nearly 50 years. Dr. Greer was a faculty member in the Department of History from 1968 to 2004 and focused on Latin American history. Dr. and Mrs. Greer have previously endowed the Harold and Laura Greer Scholarship, awarded to an outstanding undergraduate history major who has completed at least two courses in Latin American history.
“I loved teaching at VCU and the opportunities that VCU provided for wonderful students, many of whom were the first in their families to go to college. Laura and I had two main motivations in setting up a scholarship in history at VCU; as VCU’s first historian specializing in Latin America I was very interested in promoting Latin American study, and as a professor I was and am acutely aware of the costs to students — the hard work and hardships that many endure — in pursuit of their education. Our scholarship seeks to encourage and stimulate study of Latin American history and make education more accessible through financial assistance. Each year we look forward to meeting the recipient of the scholarship and hearing about their academic accomplishments.”
This endowed professorship in Latin American History was announced just a few days after the College’s announced its “Big Idea” focused hiring initiative in Migration Studies: Focus Latin America. The Greer’s gift was conceived independently of the College’s selection of Migration Studies. Dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences, Montse Fuentes, Ph.D., remarked in an email to faculty that “it is an extremely happy coincidence that the focus of Dr. and Mrs. Greer’s gift aligns so well with one of the College’s three strategic priorities.”
Dean Fuentes is thankful for the Greer’s support. “Studying and understanding history plays in a critical part of our current local, national, and global society. For historical, economic, and political reasons almost half of the 42 million migrants to the US originate in Latin America. Having an understanding of Latin American history is vital and could not come at a better time. The Greer’s gift will bring recognition, distinction, and will create opportunities for curriculum development at the VCU College of Humanities in Sciences.”
Bethanie Constant, senior director of development, shared this about Dr. Greer: “Inevitably, when I talk with alumni who took classes in the Department of History, they fondly remember Dr. Greer. Not only was he an amazing teacher that opened eyes to cultures and countries not yet traveled by his students, but he also advised thousands of students and provided them tools to be successful in the future. Over the last five years, it has been my privilege to get to know Harold and Laura. I have witnessed their profound gratitude for life and kindness and consideration of others.”