$2.4M Gift To Establish Russian History Chair at UIC

A $2.4 million gift to the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from the estate of Marianna F. Thaden will establish the Edward and Marianna Thaden Chair in Russian and East European Intellectual History.

Ms. Thaden, who died last year, was the wife of former UIC professor emeritus of history Edward C. Thaden. Mr. Thaden died in 2009.

Astrida Orle Tantillo, dean of the UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says the chair will complement the history department’s existing strength in East European studies as well as two related chairs named for the Stefan and Lucy Hejna family — one in the history of Poland, and the other in Polish language and literature, the latter based in the department of Slavic and Baltic languages.

“This chair will bolster the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ status as a destination for East European studies, while serving as a fitting tribute to the Thaden family legacy as scholars in the fields of Russian history and Slavic studies,” Tantillo said. “We are grateful for the generous support and the positive impact it will provide for generations of scholars and students at UIC.”

A native of Vienna, Austria, Marianna Thaden completed her master’s thesis, “Pasternak and Symbolism,” at Pennsylvania State University. She and her husband of almost 56 years collaborated on two books, “The Western Borderlands of Russia, 1710-1870” (1984), and “Interpreting History: Collected Essays on the Relations of Russia With Europe” (1990).

Mr. Thaden came to UIC in 1968 after 16 years at Penn State, where he twice was chair of the Russian arts program. From 1971-73, he was chair of history at UIC, where he remained until his retirement in 1992.

Mr. Thaden was a leader in the field of Russian intellectual thought, and his publications were influential in the teaching of Slavic history. The Fulbright program, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation were among the organizations to present him with awards and grants.

Mr. Thaden earned his bachelor’s degree in Slavic studies from the University of Washington and his doctoral degree in Russian and East European history at the University of Paris (Pantheon-Sorbonne).

A former colleague of Mr. Thaden, Leo Schelbert, UIC professor emeritus of history, said the couple wanted UIC to become “a major institution of higher learning,” and they “vigorously contributed to its positive direction with untiring dedication.”

With more than 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is UIC’s largest college. It comprises more than 20 departments and programs offering 38 undergraduate major fields of specialization, 36 minors, 14 languages, and nearly 50 graduate degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels, and almost 1,000 courses. The college features programs in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.

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