Here in Williamsburg there is much to celebrate this Independence Day. Last week’s annual conference in Chicago was a rich intellectual feast. This week we welcome a new OI/NEH postdoctoral fellow; next week the Lapidus Initiative is bringing the first class of Scholars’ Workshop fellows for two weeks of intensive editorial work. Our King George III fellows are making travel plans to be at Windsor Castle in the late summer, and our books and William and Mary Quarterly articles continue to win audiences and prizes.
But among these and other successes I want to share with you news of a different tenor. Seventy-two years after founding the OI as a joint project with the College of William & Mary, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will no longer be able to offer us its support. The Executive Board and Council join me in thanking CW for its long sponsorship and for the many benefits of our mutual interests.
As this situation has unfolded many have asked about the OI’s prospects. I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of the loss of CW’s support, but I do want to assure you that we will continue to staff and support our core programs that have, since 1943, advanced early American scholarship: publishing books and the William and Mary Quarterly and offering conferences and fellowships.
We are very grateful for significant support from our Associates and from foundations and other organizations. Efforts to seek new partnerships and opportunities have shown exciting early results. Most importantly, our primary sponsor, the College of William & Mary, remains firmly committed to our mission and our future. William & Mary President Taylor Reveley commented: “The Omohundro Institute has long been a natural partner for William & Mary, reflecting our university’s commitment to powerful research and scholarship as well as our abiding interest in early American history and culture. We look forward to a close and productive relationship ‘for all time coming,’ in the words of our royal charter.”
In 2018 we will mark the OI’s 75th anniversary at our annual conference, to be held that year here at home in Williamsburg. It will be a wonderful opportunity to toast the OI’s contributions to scholars and their scholarship, our enduring values of excellence in research and publication, our traditions, our community, and our bright future.