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Hazel Barnes Flat

The Hazel Barnes Flat in the heart of London is a gift to scholars in the humanities and arts by Hazel Barnes (1915-2008), the much admired professor of Philosophy at CU-Boulder and founder of the Interdisciplinary Program in the Humanities. Her will stipulates that the flat be made available to faculty and graduate students in the humanities and the arts, and that its operation be entrusted to the Center for Humanities and the Arts and its director. The flat is arranged so that two independent parties may stay there at the same time, if necessary. There are two bedrooms (the second has just a single bed, however), and two bathrooms.

The following procedures have been determined to ensure that Professor Barnes’ will is carried out to the benefit of CU’s humanities and arts faculty:

Applicants apply to Paula.Anderson@colorado.edu with a one-page statement indicating the benefit to the applicant’s scholarly or artistic project of a stay in London (i.e., visits to libraries, archives, galleries, day trips, exchange programs, attendance of conferences, etc.). Applicants should indicate their preferred dates and provide fallback dates. Successful applicants are expected to submit a report on their activities for CHA’s files within one month of their return from London.

A sub-committee of the CHA Steering Committee will read the applications on a continuing basis, and determine priority should there be a conflict. The criteria to solve conflicts will be: a) time of application (first come, first served), b) applicant’s benefit of a stay in London, c) overall quality of the project, and d) length of stay (in order to accommodate everyone, shorter stays will be preferred).

Each successful applicant will gain access to a wiki, where necessary information for the flat is contained.

About the donors

Thanks to more than $3 million in estate gifts from two University of Colorado faculty members, Hazel Barnes and Doris Schwalbe, CU-Boulder is the beneficiary of this London property. This flat makes CU-Boulder one of just a handful of major American universities with a residential presence in the U.K., and gives faculty and students a rare opportunity to pursue select projects within striking distance of important literary, artistic, and political venues.

This opportunity is possible because long-time CU-Boulder philosophy professor Hazel Barnes and her close friend and CU Denver English professor Doris Schwalbe both left a portion of their estate to the University through the CU Foundation. Barnes’ bequest included the explicit stipulation that the funds be used to purchase and maintain a flat in London for use by CU-Boulder scholars with projects in the arts and humanities and to support their research. Schwalbe, who taught English at CU Denver for 24 years, had jointly agreed to support this idea years before their passing and bequeathed a portion of her estate for these same purposes. Schwalbe passed away in 2007, and Barnes passed away in 2008. 

Their combined gifts are the largest made to support the humanities at CU-Boulder in many years. These gifts help CU-Boulder take a big step toward a Flagship 2030 strategic goal: bringing the world to CU and CU to the world.

“This will be an extraordinary means of supporting faculty and student research in the humanities and arts,” says graduate school dean John Stevenson, who played a role in the property purchase along with the CU Real Estate Foundation. “It means that researchers who need to work in London’s unmatched research collections will not have to raise funds for lodging or pay for it themselves; this will allow more scholars to conduct research there and be able to stay longer.”  

Stevenson says universities nationwide are striving to bolster their presences internationally. “This is an emerging model. Notre Dame has a building in London. Harvard has a presence in Florence. North Carolina State has a place in Prague,” Stevenson says. “Students all around CU will benefit, in that the faculty doing research will take that research into the classroom. And it will be an extraordinary asset in faculty/graduate student recruiting.”

The gifts not only funded the purchase of the London flat but also funded an endowment that covers the flat’s maintenance and operation costs in perpetuity, as well as program funds that assist faculty and graduate students with travel expenses. 

Hazel Barnes, whose translation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness helped introduce existentialism to America, taught at CU-Boulder for 33 years, and is the namesake for the University’s most prestigious teaching and research prize, the Hazel Barnes Prize. She held positions in the classics department, as chair of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, and in the department of philosophy. Internationally renowned in her field, Barnes is the recipient of many awards including the CU Regents Medal, the Colorado Humanities Award, a Mellon professorship, and a Guggenheim fellowship. Barnes also founded CU-Boulder’s humanities program, one of the nation’s first interdisciplinary programs. 

Barnes firmly believed that time spent abroad was vital for a well-rounded scholarly perspective. In 1991 she said, “London is not only a center for research in English literature, it’s a place that scholars of every kind might find important.” She added, “For a person who is involved in any sort of work in literature and philosophy, living abroad is very important.”

Just as scientists conduct research in laboratories, humanities scholars use libraries and museums. Often, a scholar must travel to the source of needed research materials – to London for records of Elizabethan drama, or to Athens for archeology. Diminishing University resources, coupled with the exorbitant costs of travel and lodging, can limit scholars’ access to the tools of their trade. Barnes and Schwalbe recognized this. Wanting to help make available the “laboratories” of the world for their colleagues, through their bequests, they provided scholars with a place to stay in London when travelling to the great museums and libraries of England.

“We know how important it is for scholars to go to the great universities abroad, and London is an obvious center. We’ve realized the educational value of travel, of living in a place for a period of time and getting to know the people,” Barnes remarked. As specialists in philosophy and literature, Professors Barnes and Schwalbe travelled a great deal to study their subjects and see the world.

After receiving her Ph.D. from Boulder in 1962, Schwalbe taught in the English department at CU Denver for 24 years on the subject of the English novel. Her research specialty was Courtesy Literature, handbooks for the young pages who served in aristocratic households in the 16th and 17th centuries. These guides were later used to set standards for proper young women, and were the precursors to today’s etiquette books.

Schwalbe believed that one of the greatest benefits of a faculty house in London would be freedom – freedom to travel, live comfortably, and study in a pleasant environment. “This is something which will enrich the lives of faculty and graduate students, personally and professionally, and will broaden their experience beyond CU,” Barnes added.

“We have very much appreciated what CU has offered us and want to help its faculty and its students,” both concluded.

The University’s Center for Humanities and the Arts administers the use of the London property and the distribution of program funds, with priority given to faculty and graduate students conducting research in the arts and humanities. 

Since November 2010, the property has been used regularly by University faculty, Ph.D. candidates and graduate students from a variety of disciplines primarily focused in the arts and humanities.