Former Congressman Jim Leach was sworn in as the ninth chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), after being confirmed last Friday by the United States Senate.
Leach previously served 30 years representing southeastern Iowa in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he chaired the Banking and Financial Services Committee, the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and founded and co-chaired the Congressional Humanities Caucus.
After leaving Congress in 2007, Leach joined the faculty at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he was the John L. Weinberg Visiting Professor of Public and International Affairs until his confirmation as NEH chairman. In September 2007, Leach took a year’s leave of absence from Princeton to serve as interim director of the Institute of Politics and lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Speaking to a staff “town hall” meeting, Leach announced a new “bridging cultures” theme for NEH.
“In an era where declining civility increasingly hallmarks domestic politics and where anarchy has taken root in many parts of the world, it is imperative that cultural differences at home and abroad be respectfully understood, rather than irrationally denigrated,” Leach said.
Leach graduated from Princeton University, received a Master of Arts degree in Soviet politics from the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University, and did additional graduate studies at the London School of Economics.
Leach holds eight honorary degrees and has received numerous awards, including the Sidney R. Yates Award for Distinguished Public Service to the Humanities from the National Humanities Alliance; the Woodrow Wilson Award from Johns Hopkins University; the Adlai Stevenson Award from the United Nations Association; the Edgar Wayburn Award from the Sierra Club; the Wayne Morse Integrity in Politics Award; the Norman Borlaug Award for Public Service; and the Wesley Award for Service to Humanity.