January 28, 2009
By Robert B. Townsend
Jessica Irons, director of the National Humanities Alliance (of which the AHA is a founding member), reports that an acting chair has been named for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and that the Republicans have named a new co-chair to the Congressional Humanities Caucus.
Carole M. Watson, NEH’s assistant chairman for partnership and national affairs, has been named the endowment’s acting chairman by President Obama. In her current role, she serves as liaison with the NEH state humanities councils, the National Trust for the Humanities, and other key institutions and organizations. She also holds a doctorate in American cultural history from George Washington University.
We are still anxiously awaiting word on who will be nominated as the permanent replacement for Bruce Cole, who resigned earlier this month. But the appointment of a permanent chair is a lengthy process involving careful vetting and Senate confirmation.
Irons also reports that Congressman Tom Petri (R-Wisconsin) will serve as the Republican co-chair of the Congressional Humanities Caucus (with Democrat David Price (D-North Carolina). The caucus has been an important bipartisan force in the House of Representatives, advocating for improved financial support for the humanities. She reports that Congressman Petri is "known as an independent, reform-minded legislator willing to cross party lines."