History alumna creates fund to support humanities undergraduate research


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — With a personal commitment of $25,000, Penn State history alumnus Liz Covart and her husband, Tim Wilde, established the Institute for the Humanities Undergraduate Research Fund Liz Covart and Tim Wilde at the College of Liberal Arts. The giveaway got matching support from Wilde’s employer, Google.

Formed in 2017, the Humanities Institute at Penn State is dedicated to promoting the social value of the humanities through scholarship, research, lectures, conferences, and public events. Covart and Wilde were particularly interested in the institute’s newest student research initiative, Re-envisioning Undergraduate Research in the Humanities, which aims to increase humanities research engagement among undergraduate students. The Covart/Wilde Research Fund will make it easier for students to participate in humanities research projects by providing research equipment and supplies, covering travel costs, and providing other forms of support.

“It is inspiring to know that Liz and Tim understand the myriad ways that teaching and research in the humanities contribute to the personal and professional development of our students,” said John Christman, director of the Penn State Humanities Institute. “By supporting the research projects of humanities students, their donation will contribute substantially to our efforts to bring the work of humanities disciplines to the world, so to speak. We know that engaging students in their own research projects multiplies their interest and enthusiasm for these disciplines, which are so important to face the challenges of our time.

Covart was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but spent most of her childhood in New Hampshire. His parents instilled in him a love of history early on by taking him and his brother on weekends to historic sites and national parks. When it came to choosing a college, however, Covart said her parents wanted her to get a degree in something other than history — “something that would lead immediately to a job.” Although Covart believed, and still believes, that a degree in history can lead to any number of professions, she honored her parents’ wishes by choosing labor and industrial relations as her academic major. Penn State was one of only three schools in the country to offer the degree at the time.

Preferring to focus on his passion for history rather than labor and industry relations, however, Covart did some research at Penn State’s office of career services. “I found out I could get an internship at the National Park Service, which I knew my parents would like.”

She landed a history department-sponsored summer internship at Boston National Historical Park, which led to a change of major — with her parents’ blessing — and five summers as an interpreter for the National Park. Service.

Along with enjoying his internships, Covart made the most of his experience at Penn State. She played trumpet for four years in the Penn State Blue Band and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society as well as Phi Alpha Theta, the honors society for history majors. She also led the “History Roundtable”, a group of students who invited visiting professors to speak with groups of students.


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