There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. The comment is sometimes erroneously attributed to Hilary Clinton, who used it as the title of a book she wrote. In fact, it is said to be a proverb in the African languages of Igbo and Yoruba. Various websites note between 9 and 43 different uses or adaptations of the phrase. Let me add a forty-fourth: It takes a village to carry out a Doctoral Dissertations Grants competition. In this Chair’s Report, I am delighted to tell you about the state of our particular village.

As you can see from the lead story in this issue of TIRF Today, we are very excited to announce the awardees of this year’s Doctoral Dissertation Grants (DDG) competition. The reviewers have selected 11 promising scholars to receive funding.

I suspect that if you were to look back in every August or September issue of this newsletter, you would be able to predict what I am about to say. The competition was intense and there were more studies we would have funded if we had had the funds to do so.

Speaking on behalf of the TIRF Board of Trustees, let me say that we are deeply grateful for the people and organizations that have supported this year’s DDG process. In terms of financial support, we owe a great deal of gratitude to TIRF Trustee Barry O’Sullivan and his colleagues at the British Council, which has been supporting the DDG program since 2014.

We must also acknowledge the wonderful contributions from TIRF Trustee Nick Saville and his colleagues at Cambridge English Assessment, whose generous support has been sustaining the DDG program since the early 2000s. The TOEFL Program at Educational Testing Service has also staunchly supported TIRF for many years. And, of course, I must acknowledge the loyalty and generosity of our individual donors, who support the Russell N. Campbell award each year, which is provided to the highest-ranked applicant.

I also want to note the contributions of the 26 reviewers who adjudicated the proposals in the 2020 DDG process. Their time, effort, and expertise are greatly appreciated.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the leadership provided by TIRF Trustee MaryAnn Christison, the Chair of our Research Advisory Committee. Along with outstanding staff support from Ryan Damerow, the Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Christison managed the entire review process with her usual combination of clarity, thoughtfulness, and leadership.

This is the part of the Chair’s Report where you will usually find my not-unexpected appeal for help. This year, we did not launch a midyear fundraising campaign. Too many people throughout the world are suffering serious setbacks at this time. And even though many people continue to struggle today, TIRF is need of its supporters’ help. Therefore, we have decided to launch a year-end matching campaign to try to make sure the Foundation can work from a balanced budget in 2021.

To prepare for the year-end appeal, TIRF’s individual Trustees have made generous pledges to support the Foundation. More information about this exciting opportunity will be highlighted in our newsletter, on our website, and on Facebook soon – please stay tuned! Your contributions will be used in so many ways, including helping young scholars via TIRF’s annual DDG competition.

Let me conclude this brief Chair’s Report by returning to the proverb and adding a forty-fifth variation: We could even say that it takes a village to raise new doctorate holders in our field. Here at TIRF, we wish to extend our gratitude to the many people who have made this year’s Doctoral Dissertation Grants competition possible. We also want to congratulate the young scholars who are the 2020 recipients and honorees recognized in this issue of TIRF Today.

Welcome to the village.

Best wishes,