Professional News

Sizemore named new director of Gaines Center for the Humanities

Michelle Sizemore
Michelle Sizemore.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 15, 2024) — Michelle Sizemore has been named the new director of the University of Kentucky Gaines Center for the Humanities, pending approval by the board of trustees. 

“Without question, the director of the Gaines Center is my dream job,” Sizemore said. “I have always been passionate about undergraduate education, and I believe deeply in the mission of the Gaines Center and the value of the Humanities. As a university program, the Gaines Center presents an important forum for Humanities advocacy throughout campus, the Lexington community and the Commonwealth.”

Sizemore is an associate professor of English at UK. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin and her bachelor's degree in English with a history minor from UK. From 2023 to the present, she has served as director of the Lunsford Scholars Program in the College of Arts and Sciences, and from 2019-2023, she served as the director of undergraduate studies in the UK Department of English.

Her research focuses on the irrational features of democracy in late 18th and early 19th century U.S. culture. She is the author of “American Enchantment: Rituals of the People in the Post-Revolutionary World,” published with Oxford University Press in 2018. She is currently completing her second book, “Irritability,” which examines unpleasant political feelings in nineteenth-century American literature. 

“The Gaines Center for the Humanities plays a vital role on our campus by helping enrich our collective experiences and education through the arts,” said UK Provost Robert S. DiPaola. “With her leadership and experience teaching and mentoring in the humanities, Dr. Sizemore will bring the Gaines Center and its innovative programs to the forefront of our work at UK. I look forward to seeing Dr. Sizemore and the Gaines Center use the humanities to advance our Commonwealth by helping our graduates learn the skills needed to solve the problems our communities face.”

Founded in 1984 by a generous gift from John and Joan Gaines, the Gaines Center for the Humanities functions as a laboratory for imaginative and innovative education on UK's campus. The center is devoted to cultivating an appreciation of the humanities in its students and faculty. The Gaines Center embraces varied paths of knowledge and particularly strives to integrate creative work with traditional academic learning.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.