The Board of Trustees of the NHC has selected Ben Vinson III, provost at Case Western Reserve University, and New York businessman Joshua Ruch as board chairman and vice-chairman, respectively. Trained as a historian with a focus on colonial Mexico, Dr. Vinson has been a member of the Center’s board since 2013 and was a Fellow at the Center in 2005–06. Mr. Ruch is cofounder and chief executive officer of Rho Capital Partners, an investment and venture capital management company based in New York and Palo Alto. He has been a trustee of the NHC since 2010, working on the board’s executive committee and as chair of the public engagement committee.
The trustees and staff of the NHC mourn the passing of Steven Marcus, one of the Center’s founders, on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. He was 89. Steven was instrumental in the conception and realization of the Center, and his intellectual leadership and continuous devotion helped nurture and guide the Center for most of the past 40+ years. Beyond his importance to the Center, Steven Marcus was an influential literary critic and professor at Columbia University where he taught from 1956 until 1994. His work on nineteenth-century literature and culture, including over 200 publications, continues to shape thinking in the field.
The National Humanities Center is pleased to announce the appointment of 38 Fellows for the academic year 2018–19. These leading scholars will come to the Center from 15 US states, as well as from Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. These newly appointed Fellows will constitute the forty-first class of resident scholars to be admitted since the Center opened in 1978. Robert D. Newman, president and director of the National Humanities Center, said, “These scholars are conducting vitally important work across a wide range of humanistic fields. We are delighted to provide them support and look forward to their arrival.”
The NHC is pleased to announce a $1,147,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative to provide residential fellowships for a dozen scholars from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) over the next three years. These fellowships will allow four HBCU scholars per year to pursue individual research projects and take part in the Center’s intellectual community. “Over the past forty years, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has consistently been one of the NHC’s leading supporters,” said President and Director Robert D. Newman. “We are especially gratified that they’ve chosen to fund this important initiative addressing a crucial need.”
The Teagle Foundation recently named Andrew Delbanco from Columbia University as its president beginning July 2018. A noted literary scholar and social critic, Delbanco has twice held fellowships at the National Humanities Center (1990–91; 2002–03) and served as a trustee of the Center from 1996 until 2006 when he was made an emeritus trustee. Delbanco has been a member of the Teagle Foundation board of directors since 2009 and has served as chair of its program committee since 2014. In 2012 he received a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.
The staff and trustees of the National Humanities Center mourn the passing of Corbette Capps, the Center’s longtime building engineer, on February 28 after a brief illness. Capps was hired in 1978 to help care for the distinctive Archie K. Davis building he had helped construct and in the course of the next thirty-one years became, himself, a memorable fixture in Center life. Affable by nature, he took particular care to assure that the Center remained a welcoming and friendly environment for scholars, colleagues, trustees, and visitors. Beloved by Fellows and staff, one of the Center’s studies was dedicated to him upon his retirement in 2008.
Earlier this month the Trump administration released its budget for the 2019 fiscal year and again proposed the elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This proposal comes despite the fact that funding for the NEH and NEA only represents .02% of the federal budget and that grants from the two agencies provide vital support for the work of scholars, teachers, and public institutions in all fifty states. To help ensure that members of Congress know about the important work being done in their own communities with the support of the NEH, the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) is again organizing a gathering of advocates in Washington March 11-13, 2018.
In September 2017, the National Humanities Center convened a group of leaders from some of the nation’s leading external fellowship programs and funders to discuss issues surrounding the evaluation of fellowships and fellowship programs. In addition to a robust discussion about best practices, challenges, and future collaborations, it was felt the next phase of a national conversation might focus on how universities themselves are evaluating humanities research. This panel, with academic leaders from Texas universities, was the first gathering in this effort.