1996-1997 indexDistributed March 14, 1997
Portuguese foundations and Brown endow chair in Portuguese history
An endowed professorship named for the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama will be inaugurated at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, in the John Carter Brown Library. This is the first Portuguese professorship in the United States funded by sources in Portugal.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Brown University will celebrate the endowment of a new professorship named for the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, during an inauguration ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, in the John Carter Brown Library on The College Green. The chair anticipates the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's voyage from Portugal to India and the Orient, sailing around the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of Africa. "He's considered the Columbus to the East," said Norman Fiering, director of the John Carter Brown Library. The event is free and the public is welcome.
The new professorship will be a joint appointment in the Department of History and the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. It is the culmination of more than five years of talks and negotiations with foundations and commissions in Lisbon, led by Onésimo Almeida, chairman of Brown's Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. "This is the first Portuguese professorship in the United States funded by the Portuguese," said Almeida. He pointed out that Harvard University has a chair in Portuguese studies endowed through the bequest of an American professor.
Funding for the Vasco da Gama professorship has been provided by the National Commission for the Commemoration of Portuguese Discoveries, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Luso-American Foundation for Development, the Fundação Oriente, the Instituto Português do Oriente, and additional funds from Brown. "These foundations, particularly Gulbenkian and the Luso-American Foundation, have been supporting Brown programs and lectureships for many years," said Almeida. "Support from the Gulbenkian Foundation goes back to 1975, the same year Brown started the Portuguese and Brazilian Studies program." Almeida added that the University's program was rated first in the 1995 rankings of graduate programs by the National Research Council.
António Hespanha, president of the National Commission for the Commemoration of Portuguese Discoveries, will give an address titled "Forms of Power of an Oceanic Empire." The current holder of a visiting professorship in Portuguese history, Diogo Ramada Curto, from the Universidade Nova of Lisbon, will introduce Hespanha at the ceremony. Hespanha's talk will be followed by remarks by Charles Neu, professor and chairman of the Department of History at Brown, and by Fernando Andresen Guimarães, ambassador of Portugal to the United States. Also giving remarks at the event will be Brown President Vartan Gregorian, José Blanco of the Gulbenkian Foundation, Bernardino Gomes of the Luso-American Foundation for Development, Ambassador João de Deus Ramos from the Fundação Oriente, and Ana Paula Laborinho from the Instituto Português do Oriente.
The ceremony will close with the Brown University Chorus performing 17th-century Portuguese music.
This event is sponsored by the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Office of the President.######