SRU’s Humanities Ladder receives $45,000 grant from PNC


June 22, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's Humanities Ladder Program, which introduces students at Aliquippa High School to topics not normally covered at the high school level, will continue for another two years as the result of a $45,000 grant from the PNC Foundation.

SRU launched the Humanities Ladder Program with 25 sophomores at AHS in fall 2015. During the 10-week program, which is taught by SRU faculty, students are introduced to university-level topics in art history, gender studies and philosophy.

"We are tremendously excited that the PNC Foundation sees the value in the Humanities Ladder Program and its vision to empower students through engagement with the central questions found in the humanities," said Aaron Cowan, SRU associate professor of history and coordinator of the Stone House Center for Public Humanities, which operates the program.

The ultimate goal of the program is to help students develop a love of humanities and find motivation to attend college, according to Cowan.

"It is the most exciting and rewarding thing I've worked on in my career," said Cowan. "This grant will provide crucial support to the program for two full academic years, giving us invaluable opportunities to develop relationships with these students and further refine the program's goals and curriculum."

Lia Paradis, associate professor of history who authored the grant, is hopeful the PNC grant will make the University successful in its bid for a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant. Funding from the NEH grant would allow expansion of the program to additional area school districts lacking funding for humanities education. Paradis also serves as the co-coordinator of the CPH.

Future plans for the program include the addition of a student fellowship, allowing SRU students to act as mentors to their high school counterparts while gaining leadership experience.

The program, which was led last year by Jason Hilton, assistant professor of secondary education, and Tim Oldakowski, assistant professor of English, will see Aksel Casson, instructor of interdisciplinary programs, and Andrew Winters, instructor of philosophy, take the helm in the fall.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 |