posted by Christopher Howard — Aug 13, 2009
After receiving confirmation from the US Senate last Friday, Jim Leach was sworn in as the ninth chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). A Republican, Leach previously served southeastern Iowa for thirty years in the US House of Representatives, where he chaired the Banking and Financial Services Committee, the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. He also founded and cochaired the Congressional Humanities Caucus.
After leaving Congress in 2007, Leach was John L. Weinberg Visiting Professor of Public and International Affairs in Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. In September 2007, he took a year’s leave of absence from Princeton to serve as the interim director of the Institute of Politics and a lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
In a recent staff “town hall” meeting about a new “bridging cultures” theme for the NEH, Leach said, “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 graduated from Princeton, received a master’s 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. He also 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; 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.