Statement from Shelly C. Lowe on Her Confirmation as Twelfth Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities
The United States Senate yesterday voted to confirm Shelly C. Lowe as the twelfth Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The White House is expected to make the official appointment in the coming days and Lowe will begin her appointment shortly thereafter.
Lowe issued the following statement after her Senate confirmation:
“I am honored and privileged to serve the nation as Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities and am grateful for the bipartisan support of the Senate and of President Biden and Vice President Harris.
“Having grown up in a small rural Navajo community in Northeast Arizona, I have personally seen how the humanities can help sustain and strengthen individuals, communities, and institutions, yet I am alert to the fact that access to humanities resources remains unevenly distributed across our country. I look forward to working with NEH staff and the network of state and jurisdictional humanities councils to expand opportunities for all Americans to participate in and benefit from humanities-centered research, education, and public programs.”
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Lowe is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, Arizona. From 2015 to 2022 she served as a member of the National Council on the Humanities, the 26-member advisory body to NEH, an appointment she received from President Obama. Lowe’s career in higher education has included roles as Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program, Assistant Dean in the Yale College Dean’s Office, and Director of the Native American Cultural Center at Yale University. Prior to these positions, she spent six years as the Graduate Education Program Facilitator for the American Indian Studies Programs at the University of Arizona.
Lowe has served in a variety of leadership roles nationally, most recently as a member of the University of Arizona Alumni Association Governing Board and of the Challenge Leadership Group for the MIT Solve Indigenous Communities Fellowship. She has served on the board of the National Indian Education Association and as a trustee on the board for the National Museum of the American Indian.
Lowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Master of Arts in American Indian Studies, and has completed doctoral coursework in Higher Education from the University of Arizona.
Assistant Chair for Programs Adam Wolfson has served as the agency’s Acting Chair since January 2021. “We are thrilled to welcome Shelly Lowe as NEH’s new Chair,” said Wolfson. “Throughout her six years on the National Council, Lowe has demonstrated a deep commitment to supporting the study and preservation of America’s rich traditions, history, and culture. We know that her leadership will enlarge the agency’s ability to support excellence in the humanities and serve all Americans.”
“It is no wonder that Shelly Lowe has been tapped to serve the public as Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities,” said Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow. “She is an individual of extraordinary experience, insight, and wisdom, and she cares deeply about the humanities and the central role they play in all of our lives. Though we will miss her at Harvard, we know that her care and skill will be put to their best use as she works to enlarge and enhance the role of art, culture, and history in this country and elsewhere.”
Lowe’s confirmation follows the Senate confirmation on December 18 of Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson as Chair of NEH’s sister agency, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).