Jim Leach, Former GOP Congressman, Is Nominated to Lead Humanities Endowment
Washington — The White House announced this morning that President Obama would nominate Jim Leach, the former veteran congressman, as the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the nation’s largest source of funds for the humanities.
The nomination of Mr. Leach, who represented Iowa in the House of Representatives for 30 years, marks the humanities endowment as the latest federal agency for which Mr. Obama has selected a Republican as its new leader. Mr. Leach, who founded the Congressional Humanities Caucus while in office, has held academic posts at Princeton and Harvard since he narrowly lost a bid for re-election, in 2006. If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Leach would succeed Bruce M. Cole, who left office in January.
The National Humanities Alliance, an advocacy group, issued a statement this afternoon that greeted Mr. Leach’s nomination with “warm enthusiasm.” In a separate statement, Robert M. Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities, expressed “strong support” for the nomination. And Pauline Yu, president of the American Council of Learned Societies, hailed the announcement as “great news!”
The election of Mr. Obama prompted some scholars to call for a return to basics at the humanities endowment, whose budget has actually shrunk in real terms over the last few decades. But in his budget plan for the 2010 fiscal year, announced last month, the president proposed increasing spending at the endowment by 10.5 percent, from $155-million to $171-million. His bipartisan choice of Mr. Leach probably increases the chances that his budget proposal will pass in Congress. —Andrew Mytelka