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Kilachand Professorship for Dellheim

Honors College director first holder of new chair

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Professor Charles Dellheim, Boston University Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College

Charles Dellheim, director of the Kilachand Honors College, has received the new professorial appointment as Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Professor. Photo by Frank Curran

Historian Charles Dellheim’s book-in-progress will explore a largely ignored aspect of the plunder of great art by Hitler’s henchmen. “I am less interested in how and why Nazis ransacked Jewish-owned collections—a tragic but well-known story—as in how Jewish outsiders acquired so much great art in the first place,” he says.

Illuminating history’s murkier corners requires financial support, and finishing the book just got a little easier, says Dellheim, thanks to a generous research stipend accompanying his appointment as the University’s first Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Professor. The newly created academic chair recognizes his status as the founding director of the Kilachand Honors College.

“I am thrilled to receive this honor, which recognizes the tremendous collaborative effort that has gone into creating” the college, says Dellheim, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of history. “It is a testimonial to the great generosity of the Kilachand family, President Brown’s ongoing commitment to this enterprise, and the efforts of the wonderful faculty and students who are working together to find new ways of realizing the classic values of liberal education.”

“We are delighted that Mr. Rajen Kilachand has made his extraordinary $25 million contribution to Boston University and the Kilachand Honors College, a contribution that is significantly advancing our educational mission,” says Jean Morrison, University provost. “That part of this gift will now go to fund the new professorship is a particularly important development. We are pleased that Professor Charles Dellheim will be serving as the inaugural holder of this chair. Professor Dellheim is a distinguished scholar who is bringing exceptional leadership to his position as director of the Kilachand Honors College. We look forward to following his success in this professorship and to seeing many great ideas, innovations, and talented individuals emerge from the Kilachand Honors College in the years ahead.”

Dellheim anticipates that future directors of the college will be appointed to the chair, which like the college is named for BU trustee Rajen Kilachand’s parents. Kilachand (GSM’74) gave $25 million to support the Honors College, whose collaborative ethos Dellheim credits in particular to former provost David Campbell and Andrew Cohen, both CAS physics professors, James Schmidt, a CAS history professor, and Victor Coelho, a College of Fine Arts music professor and a former associate provost.

The new professorship’s research money will help him humanize the Nazis’ victims in his book, Dellheim says. More than the tale of art theft and the murder of some Jewish art owners, “the crux of the story is how certain Jewish dealers and collectors acquired so much great art in the first place,” he says, “how relative outsiders with a weak visual culture came to play a pivotal role in the art world.

“Dwelling on the darkly enthralling story of Nazi art looting runs the risk of obscuring the experience, dreams, and fates of their owners.”

Dellheim’s appointment was effective March 6.

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Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

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