For Barbara “Bobby” Gitenstein and Don Hart, choosing to support the humanities at UNC was an easy decision.
Both earned their doctorate degrees in the humanities at Carolina — Gitenstein in English in 1975 and Hart in philosophy in 1981. The couple grew up in the same small town in south Alabama and chose Carolina for its “excellent” English and philosophy departments. They formed lasting relationships with several faculty members who served as important mentors for them in their careers.
Both established distinguished careers in higher education and the humanities. Gitenstein has enjoyed a long career as an English professor and administrator, and she is now president of the College of New Jersey, where she became the institution’s first woman president in 1999. Hart has taught philosophy, directed an honors program, and most recently been involved with computing in the humanities.
“As an academic administrator and a faculty member, I genuinely believe that we in higher education do some of the most important work in the world,” Gitenstein said. “I am convinced that the lessons and skills learned in humanities education can make the world a better place.”
Gitenstein and Hart recently decided to create a legacy for the humanities by including a provision in their wills to create the R. Barbara Gitenstein and Donald B. Hart Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities. This gift will establish an endowment for a distinguished professor in any of the humanities disciplines and will ensure that future generations of Carolina students continue to benefit from the high standard of excellence and teaching in the humanities that they enjoyed as Carolina students.
“We are convinced that a humanities education was the foundation for our success in life, and that the discipline of critical thinking should be the means for civic engagement and communication,” Gitenstein said.
Editor’s note: This article by Joanna Worrell Cardwell (M.A. ’06) appeared in the spring ’11 issue of Carolina Arts & Sciences magazine.