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NEH in the News

Selected articles on NEH-supported projects.
Posted: January 12, 2018 Creative Discovery Museum First To Host “America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near And Far” Traveling Exhibit

“At Creative Discovery Museum, we provide experiences that expand a child’s world,” said Henry Schulson, Creative Discovery Museum’s executive director. “America to Zanzibar will contribute to our goal of fostering global awareness and welcoming visitors of all cultures and backgrounds to the Museum. We are delighted to be the first venue outside of New York to host this important and wonderful exhibit.”

The exhibit is specifically designed for ages two-10, but contains elements that will appeal to all ages. The exhibit consists of five major sections: a Global Marketplace, a Trade Routes area, an Architecture area, a Courtyard and an American Home area.

The Global Marketplace features stalls from around the world brimming with sounds, smells and goods, where children can pretend to buy and sell spices from Egypt, ceramics from Turkey and rugs from Morocco. They can also weigh their fresh catch at the Zanzibar fish market, smell Indonesian fruits, serve Tajik tea and design outfits inspired by West African tailors in Harlem.

Funding to create this exhibition was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, MetLife Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Violet Jabara Charitable Trust, El-Hibri Foundation, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, National Endowment for the Arts, Maison de l’Artisan in Morocco, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s Board of Directors and scores of individuals.

Local sponsorship for America to Zanzibar is provided by the Lyndhurst Foundation.

Posted: January 12, 2018 CSUCI faculty member gets NEH grant to research 19th century wine industry
California State University News

Assistant Professor of History Julia Ornelas-Higdon, Ph.D. has received a $42,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to help her research a more complete history of the California wine industry.

“We tend to think of the California wine industry as something very white,” Ornelas-Higdon said. “It’s something we connect with wealthier groups of upper and upper middle-class people. My book challenges those racial stereotypes. The California wine industry involved a diverse set of immigrants.”

Ornelas-Higdon is going to use the grant to research and write a book on the marginalized history of the California wine industry workers.

“My book is going to look at the evolution of the wine industry beginning in the Spanish mission in 1769 and continuing through Mexican and then American California,” Ornelas-Higdon said. “The book will go through to the end of World War I.”

Posted: January 11, 2018 NEH grant funds first-ever African-American studies minor at Tuskegee
Tuskegee University News

A National Endowment for the Humanities grant totaling nearly $100,000 will help establish a new, multidisciplinary African-American studies program at Tuskegee University. The grant, entitled “Lifting the Veil: Seeing the Built Environment through the Lens of the Humanities,” is a collaborative project between the university’s Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science and the Department of History and Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences.

NEH Humanities Initiatives grants support and enrich humanities education and scholarship at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities. Grant funding, which will span two years, will support the creation of a new 15-credit-hour interdisciplinary minor in African-American studies, with a concentration in the Tuskegee Architects and the History of the Built Environment in the South. This concentration ultimately will contribute to a cadre of humanities elective courses for a first-of-its-kind, university-wide African-American Studies minor on the Tuskegee campus.

Dr. Carla Jackson Bell, professor and dean of the Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science, will serve as project director and overall operations administrator. She will contribute primarily to developing curriculum content for the concentration, the concept for which results from her scholarly effort to author Space Unveiled: Invisible Cultures in the Design Studio, published in 2014 by the Routledge Research in Architecture Series. 

Posted: January 11, 2018 Statement on the Passing of Former NEH Chairman Bruce Cole
NEH Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 10, 2018) — Dr. Bruce Cole, a scholar of Renaissance art, cultural critic, and chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2001 to 2009, died Monday, January 8.

Cole, 79, was the longest-serving chairman of NEH, where he spearheaded initiatives such as We the People, which encouraged the teaching, studying, and understanding of American history and culture, and Picturing America, which used great works of art to teach students about American history at more than 55,000 schools and public libraries across the country.

“NEH Chairman Bruce Cole was deeply respected as a prolific and accomplished art historian, an esteemed professor, and a discerning cultural leader. He dedicated himself to upholding the most significant works in the humanities, especially those that illuminate American culture and values,” said NEH Senior Deputy Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “As chairman, he was an unflinching defender of traditional humanities scholarship while embracing groundbreaking developments, such as the then-nascent field of digital humanities. I value my interactions with Bruce regarding cultural policy and am honored to serve with remarkable staff members whom he had the wisdom to hire during his tenure.”

Cole was appointed NEH’s eighth chairman by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2001, and again for a second term in 2005. “Congress established the Endowment because it believed our democracy needed more than science and technology to protect it,” said Cole at the time of his swearing-in. “Defending our homeland requires not only successful military campaigns; it also depends on citizens understanding their history, their institutions, and their ideals. The humanities show us what it means to be an American, and why America’s ideals are worth fighting for.”

During his seven years as head of NEH, Cole championed civic education through national efforts to increase public understanding of American history. Under the We the People initiative Cole established an essay contest for high school students on the “Idea of America” and an annual “Heroes of History” lecture, and launched library bookshelf programs on the themes of “Courage,” “Freedom” and “The Pursuit of Happiness.”

Cole’s love of the masterpieces of Western art inspired him to create the enormously successful Picturing America initiative, which brought reproductions of forty important works of American art to K-12 classrooms and libraries, accompanied by humanities-rich educational and curricular resources for teachers. In 2008, President Bush awarded Cole the Presidential Citizens Medal “for his work to strengthen our national memory and ensure that our country’s heritage is passed on to future generations.”

Under his leadership, NEH took a leading role in the application of digital technology to the humanities through creation of an NEH Office of Digital Humanities, and established a partnership with the National Science Foundation to save endangered languages from extinction through the Documenting Endangered Languages program. Other notable achievements of his tenure include the debut of the Chronicling America online database of historic American newspapers, efforts to ensure open access to NEH-supported products through changes to NEH grant guidelines, and a “Recovering Iraq’s Past” initiative to document cultural resources in Iraqi archives, libraries, and museums. 

Cole was an active contributor to NEH’s HUMANITIES magazine, both through his own writing and interviews with figures such as historian David McCullough, writers Tom Wolfe and John Updike, literary critic Helen Vendler, and political philosopher Harvey Mansfield.

Cole’s connection to NEH dates to 1971, when, as a professor at the University of Rochester, he was awarded an NEH fellowship to conduct research on “The Origins and Development of Early Florentine Painting.” In 1992, he was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to the National Council on the Humanities, the agency’s 26-member advisory board, on which he served until 1999.

Following his departure from NEH in 2009, Cole served as President and CEO of the American Revolution Center, and in 2012 joined the Ethics and Public Policy Center as a Senior Fellow. In 2013, President Barack Obama appointed Cole to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, overseeing the creation of a national monument to President Eisenhower.

A native of Ohio, Cole earned a bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University, a master’s from Oberlin College, and doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. Prior to his chairmanship of NEH, he taught art history and comparative literature for nearly three decades at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he was a distinguished professor of fine arts.

Dr. Bruce Cole wrote fifteen books, including The Informed Eye: Understanding Masterpieces of Western Art (1999); Studies in the History of Italian Art 1250–1550 (1996); Art of the Western World: From Ancient Greece to Post-Modernism (1989); and The Renaissance Artist at Work (1983).  He was a founder and co-president of the Association for Art History and a member of the Accademia Senese degli Intronati, the oldest learned society in Europe. In 2008, he was decorated as a Knight of the Grand Cross, the highest honor of the Republic of Italy.


Posted: January 11, 2018 Milt Rosenberg, cerebral radio host heard on WGN for decades, dead at 92
Chicago Sun Times

Milt Rosenberg’s incisive questioning and cerebral comments offered a respite from angry, noisy talk radio shows.

The host of WGN Radio’s “Extension 720” for decades, he died Tuesday from pneumonia at the University of Chicago Hospitals, said his friend and frequent on-air guest, Chicago attorney Joseph A. Morris.

He’d recovered well from coronary bypass surgery more than 25 years ago. But Mr. Rosenberg, 92, had become frailer after suffering a fall around Thanksgiving. Still, he continued to enjoy a life of the mind. “In the last month of his life, the greater part of December, he listened to a recorded library of virtually the entirety of William Shakespeare’s plays,” Morris said.

With a Ph.D. in psychology and his work as a longtime professor at the University of Chicago, “He could discuss Shakespeare’s comedies one night, and the latest developments on what are black holes and physics the next night, and a roundtable on politics the next night,” said Morris. 

In 2008, the National Endowment for the Humanities recognized Mr. Rosenberg’s contributions to broadcasting with a National Humanities Medal. An NEH tribute by David Skinner listed the variety of his show’s guests to demonstrate his skills as an analyst and interviewer: Saul Bellow, Betty Friedan, Bill Murray, Colin Powell, Carl Sagan, Margaret Thatcher and John Updike, among many others.

Posted: January 11, 2018 Bruce Cole's Passing
The Weekly Standard

I was sorry to learn yesterday that Bruce Cole, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has died. I had an email exchange with him just a few days ago (I didn’t know Bruce well, but we corresponded intermittently), and now he’s gone. Death is always a surprise, even when it’s not unexpected.

Yuval Levin remembers him in National Review, as does Indiana University where he taught for many years.

Micah Mattix

Posted: January 10, 2018 Bruce Cole, 1938-2018
National Review
Sad news today that Bruce Cole—my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a great champion of American civic education and the arts and humanities properly understood—has died at the age of 79. Bruce was a distinguished humanist, a scholar of Western art and literature, and a defender of liberal education. He headed the NEH throughout George W. Bush’s presidency, pushing back forcefully against the many noxious trends afflicting the academy. He launched the agency’s “We the People” initiative, to support the teaching of American history and ideals and an initiative to use great American works of art to teach our history in schools and libraries. He was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal for that service in 2008. In the years that followed, as a fellow at EPPC, Bruce worked tirelessly to advance the same causes, and to fight against the degradation of the academic humanities, of the teaching of American history, and of the role of public art and architecture in our country. He also ran the American Revolution Center and helped oversee its development of the (fantastic) new museum of the American Revolution, which opened last year in Philadelphia. High among Bruce’s passions in recent years was a crusade to honor Dwight Eisenhower appropriately by stopping the construction of the hideous monstrosity of a memorial to Ike designed by architect Frank Gehry (and funded lavishly by taxpayer dollars) and replacing it with a duly modest and restrained public monument to the great man. This effort was a symbol of Bruce’s priorities and enthusiasms. He was a great believer in the power of the arts and humanities to shape our national character, and so sought to defend them from the perversities of many of their own practitioners for the benefit of the country. Though the work he took on often involved such intense defensive fights, Bruce was at the same time a gentle and deeply decent man, and a wonderful friend and colleague. Our country was lucky to have him. And those of us who had the even greater luck of knowing him personally will dearly miss him. RIP

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Posted: January 10, 2018 Bruce Cole, IU distinguished professor who led NEH for 8 years, dead at age 79
The Herald Times, Bloomington

Bruce Cole, an IU distinguished professor of fine arts whose efforts to defend the humanities were recognized by two U.S. presidents, died Monday. He was 79.  His death was announced Tuesday afternoon in a news release from Indiana University that included four paragraphs of praise from university President Michael McRobbie. Cole served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2001 to 2009. When he was sworn in, Cole said the humanities "show what it means to be American, and why America's ideals are worth fighting for."

Posted: January 10, 2018 IU mourns passing of Bruce Cole, distinguished professor emeritus and former IU trustee
Indiana University Press

The Indiana University community mourns the passing of Distinguished Professor Emeritus and former IU trustee Bruce Cole.

Cole, 79, died on Monday, Jan. 8.

He joined the IU faculty in 1973, achieving the highest rank of Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts in IU Bloomington's College of Arts and Sciences, during a nearly three-decade tenure. In 2008, he received the IU President's Medal for Excellence, the highest honor an IU president can bestow, and in 2010, he was appointed to a three-year term on IU's Board of Trustees.

Cole served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2001 to 2009, making him the longest-serving chairman in the history of the endowment, an independent grant-making agency of the U.S. government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation and public programs in the humanities.

"All of us at Indiana University are deeply saddened by the passing of Bruce Cole, one of our university's most renowned scholars and public servants, who achieved great distinction both within his field of art history and in the broader arts community," IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. "A distinguished scholar of Renaissance art, he possessed a deep and broad knowledge of art and architecture that he applied to all of his scholarly and public-service endeavors, many of which he dedicated to highlighting the importance of understanding the past in order to preserve and strengthen our democracy and culture. He was also the first IU faculty member to be appointed to the university's Board of Trustees in modern times, and during his long and accomplished tenure at IU he served as a powerful champion for celebrating and enhancing the university's renowned traditions in the arts and humanities.

"When he was sworn in as NEH chairman, Bruce said that 'defending our homeland requires not only successful military campaigns; it also depends on citizens understanding their history, their institutions and their ideals. The humanities show us what it means to be an American, and why America's ideals are worth fighting for.'

"Bruce devoted his life and career to these ideals and, hence, his will be a lasting legacy within the field of humanities and for all of us who will carry on his work to preserve our nation's cultural heritage.

"We at IU were extremely proud to serve as Bruce's academic home for so many years and benefit from his extraordinary accomplishments and service to the university. He will be greatly missed, and our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, friends and former colleagues here and all around the nation."

Under Cole's leadership, the NEH launched key initiatives, including We the People, a program designed to encourage the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture, and the Digital Humanities Initiative, which supports the innovative use of technology in humanities education, scholarship and public programming.

In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded Cole the Presidential Citizens Medal "for his work to strengthen our national memory and ensure that our country's heritage is passed on to future generations." The medal is second only to the Presidential Medal of Freedom among the honors the president can confer upon a civilian. Also in 2008, he was decorated Knight of the Grand Cross, the highest honor of the Republic of Italy.

In 2013, Cole was appointed by President Barack Obama to be a member of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission.

Cole was the author of over a dozen books on Renaissance art and related subjects and the recipient of numerous awards and nine honorary degrees. Additionally, he held fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Philosophical Society, among others.

Additionally, he was a corresponding member of the Accademia Senese degli Intronati, the oldest learned society in Europe, and he founded the Association for Art History. He received the Sagamore of the Wabash from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2006.

Cole is survived by his wife, Doreen; his son, Ryan; and his daughter, Stephanie Whittaker; as well as his grandchildren, Ava and Daniel Whittaker.

Information about a memorial service will be forthcoming.

Posted: January 10, 2018 Shelby County Public Library using robots as winter reading motivation
Shelbyville News

Local children looking for fun activities are encouraged to sign up for the free winter reading program at the Shelby County Public Library.

The library received a grant called Quantum Leap from Indiana Humanities with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and through the grant, the library created “Rise of the Robots,” a robot-themed program for children.

Roger Stremming, teen librarian, said the theme explores the scientific process with programs that range for children ranging in age from preschool through teenagers.