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Seven Presidential Appointees Sworn in as Advisors to National Endowment for the Humanities

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2000 - William R. Ferris, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), recently swore in seven new members of the Endowment's advisory board at NEH headquarters. The board, called the National Council on the Humanities, consists of 26 distinguished citizens who are nominated by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The new members will begin their terms at the council's spring 2000 meeting on March 27-28.

"It is a pleasure to welcome these distinguished individuals to the National Council on the Humanities," said NEH Chairman William R. Ferris, who chairs the National Council. "All of them are leaders in their fields, and I will rely on their insights and judgments to help guide the National Endowment for the Humanities as we move into the new millennium."

February 18, 2000 swearing-in ceremony of the seven new members of the National Council on the Humanities (l. to r.: Theodore Striggles, Pedro Castillo, Linda Lee Aaker, Edward Ayers, Evelyn Edson, Ira Berlin, Peggy Prenshaw, NEH Chairman William Ferris)

The new council members are:

Linda Lee Aaker (Austin, Texas) is counsel to the Austin law firm of Bickerstaff, Heath, Smiley, Pollan, Kever & McDaniel, where she had been a partner from 1983 to 1998. Previously, she was assistant attorney general of the State of Texas from 1974 through 1983, serving as assistant chief, Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division from 1977 to 1980, and chief, Antitrust Division from 1980 to 1982. She is a member of the board of directors of Bethphage Great Britain, a nonprofit agency providing services to persons with developmental disabilities. An author, she has published a book, A Woman's Odyssey, as well as written over a dozen articles for the Washington Post on diverse subjects. Ms. Aaker received a B.A. from Luther College and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.

Edward L. Ayers (Charlottesville, Va.), a professor of history at the University of Virginia for nearly 20 years, became the Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History in 1993. He has received a number of writing awards for his works on American studies, Southern history and race relations. His books include All Over the Map: Rethinking American Regions and The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction. Dr. Ayers has also received a number of grants and fellowships, including those from the Fulbright Commission, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He received a B.A. from the University of Tennessee, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University.

Ira Berlin (Washington, DC) is a professor of history at the University of Maryland, and this spring will also teach at Yale University. At the University of Maryland, he holds the title of University Professor, and he has served as dean of undergraduates and dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. Dr. Berlin has written several books dealing with slavery and African American life, including Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South and Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America, which won the Bancroft Prize for the best book in American history. Dr. Berlin has been awarded a number of grants and fellowships, including those from the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was a Fulbright Bicentennial Professor at the University of Paris. He has served as a member of the advisory board of the National Archives and as a consultant on the Ken Burns Civil War documentary and to the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Berlin received a B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

Pedro G. Castillo (Watsonsville, Calif.) is associate professor of history and founding codirector of the Chicano/Latino Research Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has also served as an academic specialist for the United States Information Agency in Peru, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Argentina. He lectures widely, often on Chicano history and politics and empowerment, and has served as a consultant for a number of organizations, including the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Castillo is author of An Illustrated History of Mexican Los Angeles and The American Nation. He received a B.A. from Arizona State University, an M.A. from Northern Arizona University and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Evelyn Edson (Scottsville, Va.) is professor of history and humanities at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville, Va. She has been a project director of a three-year grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities on "Strengthening General Education Through the Humanities," and has been the recipient of other NEH grants and a Newberry Library Fellowship. Among her recent publications are the book Mapping Time and Space: How Medieval Mapmakers Viewed Their World and an article, "The Historian at the Community College." Dr. Edson received a B.A. from Swarthmore College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Peggy Whitman Prenshaw (Baton Rouge, La.) holds the Fred C. Frey Chair of Southern Studies in the Department of English at Louisiana State University. She is widely published, and among her books are More Conversations with Eudora Welty and Women Writers of the Contemporary South. She has also edited the journal Southern Quarterly and the book series Literary Conversations. Dr. Prenshaw received the Charles Frankel Prize from the National Endowment of the Humanities in 1994 for her outstanding contributions to the public humanities over the past 20 years. She has served as president of the Eudora Welty Society and the Society for the Study of Southern Literature. Dr. Prenshaw received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from Mississippi College and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.

Theodore W. Striggles (New York, N.Y.) is an arts and intellectual property lawyer who is currently counsel to the New York firm of Johnston & Sellers. He has served as executive director of the New York State Council on the Arts, as Chairman of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and as an adjunct professor of Public Administration at New York University. Mr. Striggles performed for 10 years as a modern dancer with New York based companies. He has served as a pro bono advisor and lawyer to several hundred dance and theater companies, and is the principal author of two guidebooks for artists: Fear of Filing and Poor Dancer's Almanack. He is currently a member of the Purchase College Council of the State University of New York. Mr. Striggles received a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

National Council members serve staggered six-year terms. The council meets three times a year to review applications for the awarding of grants and to make recommendations to the chairman regarding the Endowment's policies, programs and procedures.

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About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Media Contacts: Office of Communications at (202) 606-8446 or info@neh.gov