CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Endowment for the Humanities chairman William Ferris to visit UI
(Editors note: Ferris will be available to speak to the media briefly
at approximately 5 p.m., immediately following the speeches in the Senate
Chamber and before the reception.)
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- William Ferris, chairman of the National Endowment
for the Humanities, will visit the University of Iowa Monday, Nov. 2 to
inaugurate the UI Arts and Humanities Initiative and to speak about the
importance of funding humanities research.
Ferris's campus visit will include a celebratory event at 3:30 p.m.
in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol, followed by a reception. During
the formal program Ferris will give a lecture titled, "America Won
the Cold War But Is Losing its Soul: Why Federal Funding for the Humanities
Should Be Increased."
UI President Mary Sue Coleman will speak on the long tradition of UI
strength and innovation in the arts and humanities. David Skorton, vice
president for research, will describe the Arts and Humanities Initiative
and other UI programs in support of arts and humanities scholarship. Jay
Semel, director of the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, will acknowledge
those UI faculty members who received arts and humanities grants from the
University, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other federal
and state agencies.
The Arts and Humanities Initiative, funded by an annual state appropriation
of $300,000, is designed to advance research in the humanities and work
in the creative and performing arts. The UI requested the funding in 1997
in the wake of significant budget cuts to federal agencies funding such
research. The Iowa Legislature first allocated the money for this program
in the 1998 budget and has committed to an annual appropriation.
"In the arts and humanities funding is difficult to come by,"
Skorton said. "That's why this initiative is so important to our institution.
This initiative will permit us to advance the scholarly and creative efforts
of so many people. We are grateful that the Board of Regents supported
our request and that the legislature and governor have added that amount
to our annual budget, creating an on-going benefit to the arts and humanities."
Semel said Ferris's visit to the UI demonstrates that those at the highest
levels of federal funding believe in the Arts and Humanities Initiative
and want to celebrate the university's efforts to create the program and
the state's willingness to support it. "We are very pleased and honored
to have Dr. Ferris take the time to come to campus to recognize the Initiative
and the university's and the state's commitment to the arts and humanities,"
Before becoming chairman of the NEH in 1997, Ferris served for 18 years
as founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at
the University of Mississippi in Oxford. While serving as director of the
center, Ferris oversaw the creation of a number of cultural programs, including
the Oxford Conference for the Book, the annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha
Conference, and the International Conferences on Elvis Presley held in
1994 and 1995.
Among the many books Ferris has written or edited is the best-selling
"Encyclopedia of Southern Culture," which was published in 1989
and contains entries on every aspect of Southern culture. The volume was
nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and is widely recognized as a major reference
work linking popular, folk, and academic cultures.
Ferris's scholarly interests include the fields of folklore, American
literature, music, and photography. He has won numerous awards for his
work in the humanities, including the Charles Frankel Prize in the Humanities,
which is awarded by the President of the United States. The French government
also has honored Ferris, naming him both a Chevalier and an Officer in
the Order of Arts and letters.