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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 29, 2004

NEH Chairman Bruce Cole To Speak On Humanities, Democracy Oct. 6

Bruce Cole, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), will visit the University of Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, to speak on "The Scholar And The Citizen: The Necessity Of The Humanities To Democracy." The lecture, part of the UI Year of the Arts and Humanities, begins at 4 p.m. in the Richey Ballroom, Iowa Memorial Union. A reception will follow. Both the lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

Cole, a scholar of Renaissance art, was selected by President George W. Bush to chair the NEH and began his term in December 2001. He came to the Endowment from Indiana University, Bloomington, where he was distinguished professor of art history and professor of comparative literature.

The author of 14 books, Cole is internationally renowned for his scholarship in art history. His work has changed the way Renaissance art is perceived and studied. As chairman of NEH, Cole is the nation's leading spokesperson for the humanities.

Jay Semel, director of the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and co-chair of the UI Year of the Arts and Humanities, notes that NEH grants and fellowships have supported numerous UI scholarly projects, including important studies of Descartes, Verdi, Whitman, of American fathers, of women's work in the 12th century and of economic development in the 20th century.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Cole gave a speech that was later adapted into an essay in the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal outlining the implications of the state of humanities for the state of the union.

"Our nation is in a conflict driven by religion, philosophy, political ideology and views of history -- all humanities subjects," he said. "To understand this conflict, we need the humanities...Today it is all the more urgent that we study American institutions, culture and history. Defending our democracy demands more than successful military campaigns. It also requires an understanding of the ideals, ideas and institutions that have shaped our country."

Cole was born in Ohio and attended Case Western Reserve University. He earned his master's degree from Oberlin College and his doctorate in 1969 from Bryn Mawr College. He has held fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, Kress Foundation, American Philosophical Society, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and National Endowment for the Humanities

He has served as 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 for seven years. He is a corresponding member of the Accademia Senese degli Intronati, the oldest learned society in Europe, and a founder and former co-president of the Association for Art History.

For additional information or special accommodations to attend this event, contact the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 319-335-4034.

UI President David Skorton's determination to increase public awareness and support of the rich tradition of arts and humanities on campus and throughout Iowa led him to declare academic year 2004-2005 the Year of Arts and Humanities, a time to celebrate that rich tradition and forge cultural linkages between the academic community and communities around the state. The Year of the Arts and Humanities is supported by the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice-president for Research and the Graduate College.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,