WASHINGTON, D.C. —Four prominent scholars and leaders in the humanities were sworn in today as new members of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) advisory board, the National Council on the Humanities. The new Council members, Beverly Gage, Vanessa Northington Gamble, David Hajdu, and Kathryn Matthew were nominated by President Biden in April and October 2021 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2022.
“We are delighted to welcome these four distinguished individuals to the National Council on the Humanities,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “Together they bring a wide range of leadership experience in academia and the cultural sector and deep expertise in humanities scholarship and cultural criticism. The insights they bring from their respective fields will be an invaluable resource for NEH.”
The 26-member National Council on the Humanities meets at least three times a year to review grant applications and to advise the NEH chair. National Council members serve staggered six-year terms. The four new members will join the next meeting of the National Council of the Humanities in July 2022.
Below are biographies of the new members:
Beverly Gage is a professor of history and American studies at Yale University, where she specializes in twentieth-century U.S. political history. She is the author of The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in its First Age of Terror (Oxford), which examines the history of terrorism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, focusing on the 1920 Wall Street bombing. She is currently completing G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century (Viking), a sweeping biography of J. Edgar Hoover, who led the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 48 years. In addition to her teaching and research, Professor Gage writes widely as an essayist and public intellectual. As a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, she has explored subjects ranging from the history of civil-service “independence” to “law and order” politics to current dilemmas in U.S. foreign policy. At the Washington Post, she has written about the lingering effects of McCarthyism and the histories of the FBI and CIA, among other subjects. Her research on Hoover and the FBI has been widely featured in documentary films including MLK/FBI, The Bombing of Wall Street, Enemies: The President, Justice & the FBI, and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.
As director of undergraduate studies in History at Yale, professor Gage led an effort to redesign the history major, working closely with both students and faculty to ensure that the study of history and the humanities remains vibrant in the twenty-first century. She has served as director of Yale’s Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, a selective interdisciplinary program that connects the academic study of history and the humanities with the practice of politics, statecraft, and social change. In 2015, she was elected to serve as the inaugural chair of Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate, where she worked closely with colleagues to create an effective voice for faculty on campus. In all of these endeavors, she has been guided by a commitment to exploring how history and the humanities can inform the most significant challenges of the contemporary world. Gage earned her B.A. from Yale University (1994, American studies, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and her Ph.D. in history from Columbia University (2004, Bancroft Dissertation Award). At Yale, she received the Sarai Ribicoff Award for excellence in teaching.
Vanessa Northington Gamble, M.D., Ph.D., is the University Professor of Medical Humanities at George Washington University. She is the first woman and first African American to hold this prestigious, endowed faculty position. She is also a professor of health policy and medicine and professor of medicine at the George Washington University. In addition, she is adjunct professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
Northington Gamble has frequently been a pioneer during her professional career. She was the first African American woman appointed, and later tenured, to the faculty of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. In 1996, she became founding director of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in Medicine—one of the first academic centers to address racial and ethnic inequities in health and health care.
Throughout her career Northington Gamble has worked to promote equity and justice in American medicine and public health. A physician, scholar, and activist, she is an internationally recognized expert on the history of race and American medicine, racial inequities in health and health care, and bioethics. She is the author of several widely acclaimed publications on the history of race and racism in American medicine. Public service has been a hallmark of Northington Gamble’s career. She chaired the committee that took the lead role in the successful campaign to obtain an apology in 1997 from President Clinton for the infamous United States Public Health Syphilis Study at Tuskegee. She has been appointed to numerous boards and committees and has served on several editorial boards.
Northington Gamble’s many honors include membership in the National Academy of Medicine. She was the 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Award from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In May 2022, she received an honorary doctor of science degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University.
A proud native of West Philadelphia, Northington Gamble received her B.A. from Hampshire College and her M.D. and Ph.D. in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania.
David Hajdu has been an important cultural historian, critic, and educator for more than 30 years. Long recognized as “one of our sharpest music critics” (Wall Street Journal), Hajdu has written extensively on music in every style as music critic for The New Republic for more than 10 years and, more recently, as music critic for The Nation. His essays and commentary on a varied range of cultural subjects appear regularly in the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, New Yorker, New York Review of Books, and other publications. As an educator, Hajdu taught at the New School, Syracuse University, and the University of Chicago before joining the faculty of Columbia University, where he specializes in arts and culture as a professor in the Graduate School of Journalism. He has served on juries for the PEN/Faulkner Awards, the Pulitzer Prizes, and the National Magazine Awards. An accomplished songwriter and librettist for concert music, he has had original works performed in Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall, and many other venues. Born and raised in rural New Jersey, he has lived in New York since his undergraduate years at New York University.
Kathryn Kahrs Matthew, Ph.D., MBA, has led mission-driven organizations to achieve greater impact and effectiveness in partnership with their audiences, supporters and customers. She continues to explore how local assets—people and places, residents’ knowledge, collective narratives, and iconic objects and sites—can weave together to strengthen communities.
Matthew has held positions crossing executive leadership, fundraising, and program development at a wide range of organizations such as the Appalachia Funders Network, St. David’s Foundation, Historic Charleston Foundation, and New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. In these and other roles, she has applied innovation management approaches based on her new product development experience in nonprofit software and consumer products.
Appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2015, she served as the executive-level agency head of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a peer agency to NEH. In that role she blended grantmaking, capacity-building, mixed-methods evaluation, shared learning, and policy development to strengthen communities nationwide. During her tenure within two presidential administrations, she prioritized investments in cultural stewardship, lifelong learning, digital literacy, civic cohesion, health and wellness, and workforce development. She is the Doctor of Design Distinguished Fellow in the College of Art & Design at Louisiana State University.
Matthew’s recent book Fundraising for Impact in Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Making the Case to Government, Foundation, Corporate and Individual Funders speaks to the importance of funders and cultural organizations aligning in their collective work toward community wellbeing.
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 neh.gov.