Roy Lichtenstein took his Ohio State education and turned it into an art movement. Now his foundation is looking to give back to the university where it all started.
The university announced in a press release on Monday that the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation will donate $6 million in endowments to be used to create two chairs at the university, one in art history and one in studio art, bringing Lichtenstein’s time at OSU full circle.
Before Lichtenstein became a famed contemporary pop artist, he was a student and faculty member at OSU, earning two degrees and teaching at the university for five years.
The endowment will be doled out in two $3 million chairs, the Roy Lichtenstein Endowed Chair of Art History and another for the Roy Lichtenstein Endowed Chair of Studio Art. The money will also be used to fund programs and initiatives within the departments.
Jack Cowart, executive director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, said there was no magic moment of when to gift the endowment, but the time was right.
“We wanted to find a way to play into all the energy in the city right now,” Cowart said. “We had been talking about it for long enough and finally said ‘Come on, let’s just do it already’ and decided to get it into gear. ”
Rebecca Harvey, chair of the Department of Art, said the effects of the endowments will go beyond campus.
“Columbus is turning into a real hotbed of contemporary culture,” Harvey said. “We have the Wexner Center (for the Arts), among other things in the city, and we think it’s pretty cool to add the endowment here. This only adds to everything the city has going on.”
Lisa Florman, chair of the Department of History of Art, said the Lichtenstein name adds greater traction to hiring such important positions.
“Having his name associated with the chair adds a great deal of prestige,” Florman said. “It is pretty special that he was both a student and a faculty here — certainly gives it extra meaning.”
Cowart said this is the first time an endowment of this scale has ever been granted by the foundation, and that it was special to them to collaborate with OSU.
The departments will be doing a national search for candidates to fill both roles next year, according to the announcement.