WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jon Parrish Peede, the eleventh chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has announced his resignation from the agency, effective Wednesday, January 20, 2021.
Peede was nominated by President Donald J. Trump and unanimously confirmed as NEH chairman by the United States Senate in April 2018 after serving nearly a year as senior deputy chairman and acting chairman.
Peede’s previous positions include literature grants director at the National Endowment for the Arts, director of the NEA Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience program, director of communications at Millsaps College, and editor at Mercer University Press.
“It is the honor of my career to serve with the dedicated civil servants and appointees at this agency,” Peede said. “Our grants make a transformative difference not only to cultural organizations and scholars, but to the American public. The humanities play an essential role in developing engaged citizens well versed in our republic’s founding ideals and democratic principles.”
Under his leadership, NEH created a new category of challenge grants to support infrastructure and capacity-building at humanities institutions, supporting projects such as new cultural centers in Juneau, Alaska, and Oxford, Mississippi, and an HBCU Library Alliance initiative to strengthen African-American archival collections at 71 libraries. The agency also issued emergency grants for cultural organizations affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and formed a new partnership with the First Nations Development Institute to support the revitalization of Native American languages.
Peede also oversaw the distribution of $75 million of CARES Act economic stabilization grants to sustain humanities organizations and practitioners affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The agency’s support made a particularly significant difference to efforts to save staff positions at small and mid-size museums. This emergency relief funding was appropriated to NEH by Congress in addition to the agency’s annual budget, which increased nearly $20 million during his tenure. The 2021 NEH budget is $167.5 million.
In 2019, Peede launched “A More Perfect Union,” an agency-wide initiative commemorating the upcoming 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States in 2026. “A More Perfect Union” offers funding opportunities for projects related to U.S. semiquincentennial, civics education, and veterans programming. Among the projects funded through “A More Perfect Union” are a cooperative agreement with iCivics for a project to assess the state of, and best practices, in teaching K-12 American history, civics, and government. The new grant program also funded “Held in Trust,” a national convening on the conservation and preservation of cultural heritage materials.
Other milestones of Peede’s tenure include a $7 million partnership with the Teagle Foundation to reinvigorate the humanities within college-level general education curricula and a cooperative effort with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to convert important out-of-print humanities texts into freely available ebooks. The NEH Public Programs division funded The Vote, a documentary celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage that aired on PBS, and also Unladylike2020, a series of 26 animated short films about trailblazing women. He also increased Research Fellowships and Public Scholars awards from $50,400 to $60,000 and improved funding opportunities for independent scholars.
In addition to visiting more than 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, tribal colleges, and indigenous organizations, Peede traveled to 43 states, a U.S. territory, and U.S. commonwealth. He often participated in public events at the request of state humanities councils, which he frequently affirms as vital cultural anchors.
Assistant Chairman for Programs Adam Wolfson will serve as NEH acting chairman.
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.