National Humanities Center Board Elects Chair, Other Officers | National Humanities Center

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National Humanities Center Board Elects Chair, Other Officers

November 2, 2023

collage of four photo portraits
Clockwise from top left: J. Porter Durham Jr., chairman; Rishi Jaitly, vice-chairman; Raymond J. Wiacek, treasurer; Karen R. Lawrence, secretary
At its most recent meeting, the board of trustees of the National Humanities Center (NHC) elected a new slate of officers. J. Porter Durham Jr., who recently retired as managing partner of Global Endowment Management, was selected to serve as the board’s new chairman. He succeeds Ben Vinson III, who was recently appointed president of Howard University.

“Porter Durham joined our board in 2015 during my first year at the Center,” said NHC President and Director Robert D. Newman. “His passionate support for humanities scholarship and teaching have been evidenced time and again over the last eight years, and it is exciting to have him assume this new role.”

Newman continued, “During my tenure I’ve had the good fortune to work with gifted leaders like Porter Durham, Ben Vinson, and [NHC trustee emerita] Patricia Morton. Their wisdom has been invaluable as we’ve expanded the Center’s offerings and launched a wide variety of initiatives to support humanities scholarship and teaching. I’m delighted to be continuing that momentum with Porter and pleased that Ben will continue to serve as one of our trustees. We look forward to partnering with him and others in the Howard community in the months ahead.”

Prior to supporting the founding of Global Endowment Management in 2007, Porter Durham served as Staff Counsel and Director of the Education Division of The Duke Endowment. A passionate advocate for education, the arts, and humanities, he is immediate past chair of the Duke Law School Board of Visitors and serves as a trustee of Saint Andrews School in Delaware. He is a former trustee and board chair of Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte, and a former trustee of the Blumenthal Center for the Performing Arts, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Johnson C. Smith University, the North Carolina Humanities Council, and the Oxford American Literary Project. Durham graduated cum laude from Duke University and the Duke University School of Law.

Joining Durham as officers on the National Humanities Center’s board are entrepreneur Rishi Jaitly, who was elected vice chairman; Karen R. Lawrence, president of The Huntington Library, who was elected board secretary; and Raymond J. Wiacek, a partner at the law firm Jones Day, who was re-elected as treasurer.

In addition to serving in executive roles at Twitter and Google, Rishi Jaitly has founded and led a variety of successful tech companies including, most recently, Times Bridge. He is currently a Distinguished Humanities Fellow and founder of the Institute for Leadership in Technology at Virginia Tech. Jaitly is a former trustee of Princeton University and a former commissioner of higher education in New Jersey, and currently serves on the boards of Virginia Humanities and Public Radio Exchange (PRX).

Prior to her appointment at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, Karen Lawrence served as the tenth president of Sarah Lawrence College. She was previously dean of the School of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine and co-chaired the University of California Humanities Commission. A widely respected English and Irish literature scholar and teacher, Lawrence’s scholarly leadership has included serving as both president of the International James Joyce Foundation and the Society for the Study of Narrative Literature. She also previously served in a number of leadership roles at the University of Utah, where she was widely recognized for her successes as a scholar and administrator.

Raymond Wiacek is a globally recognized expert in international business and tax law at Jones Day in Washington, DC. He also has served as an adjunct tax professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Wiacek graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude from Yale University and received his JD cum laude from Harvard University.

“The National Humanities Center is a unique institution and I am honored to have been elected by my fellow trustees,” said Durham. “I look forward to working with all of them, especially Rishi, Karen, and Raymond in helping build on the NHC’s success and position it to flourish in the years ahead.”

About the National Humanities Center

The National Humanities Center is the world’s only independent institute dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. Through its residential fellowship program, the Center provides scholars with the resources necessary to generate new knowledge and to further understanding of all forms of cultural expression, social interaction, and human thought. Through its education programs, the Center strengthens teaching on the collegiate and pre-collegiate levels. Through public engagement intimately linked to its scholarly and educational programs, the Center promotes understanding of the humanities and advocates for their foundational role in a democratic society.


Don Solomon
Director of Communications