Art scholar Bruce Cole was sworn in today as the eighth chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Cole comes to the Endowment from Indiana University, Bloomington, where he taught fine arts and comparative literature. He was Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts and chairman of the Department of the History of Art at the university's Hope School of Fine Arts. The swearing-in was performed by Vice President Richard Cheney in the Vice President's Ceremonial Office.
"Congress established the Endowment because it believed our democracy needed more than science and technology to protect it," said Cole. "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. The NEH's goal of preserving and promoting the best of the humanities is vital."
Cole has written 15 books. They include The Informed Eye: Understanding Masterpieces of Western Art (1999), Studies in 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 received the President's Award of the American Association of Italian Studies for Sienese Painting in the Age of the Renaissance (1985). He is co-general editor of G.K. Hall Publishers' multivolume Corpus of Early Italian Paintings.
Cole is a founder and former co-president of the Association for Art History. He is a corresponding member of the Accademia Senese degli Intronati, the oldest learned society in Europe, and a member of the Honorary Board of Directors of the American Friends of Florentine Museums. He has held numerous fellowships.
Cole's relationship with the Endowment goes back to 1971, when as a professor at the University of Rochester he was awarded an NEH fellowship to do research on "The Origins and Development of Early Florentine Painting." He has been a panelist in NEH's peer review system, and in 1992 he was named by President George H. W. Bush to the National Council on the Humanities, the Endowment's 26-member advisory board, on which he served until 1999.