"Can we be arrested in our work for at least a moment and take thought about what it represents? Can we ask whether our faith, and our works, are as great as the faith that others have in us? I do not know. I think so. I hope so. But each year a company of scholars will gather here, and they will be the tests of this faith that others have shown in us. If we scholars can match it even a little, if we can do our work with passion and with sanity, with firmness about ideas, but also a power to imagine a world beyond our ideas, we shall perhaps do something to lift the vision of scholarship that scholars in general hold, and to lift the vision of this civilization."
Charles Frankel, the first president and director of the National Humanities Center, speaking at the dedication ceremony on April 7, 1979