In December 2015, Humanities Texas welcomed National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Chairman William D. Adams to the Lone Star State. Over three and a half days, Chairman Adams traveled to Austin, Houston, and Dallas, visiting universities and cultural institutions in each city.
On Monday, December 6, Chairman Adams joined Humanities Texas staff, board members, and members of our Veterans Task Force for breakfast and a tour of the historic Byrne-Reed House. Afterward, the group assembled in the Julius and Suzan Glickman Room, where our distinguished veteran guests, including Chairman Adams, participated in a recorded roundtable conversation. During the discussion, the participants shared their personal experiences and reflected on the importance of humanities-based discussion programs for veterans inspired by NEH’s Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War initiative, including Humanities Texas’s own Veterans’ Voices.
Highlights of Chairman Adams’s day in Austin included a tour of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum’s exhibitions La Belle and Tom Lea: Chronicler of 20th-Century America led by museum Director Victoria Ramirez; a luncheon at The University of Texas at Austin hosted by Dr. Randy Diehl, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts; and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Harry Ransom Center’s extensive collections led by HRC Director Stephen Enniss.
That evening, the LBJ Presidential Library hosted a celebration of the fiftieth anniversaries of the NEH and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The focus of the event was a conversation with Chairman Adams and NEA Chairman Jane Chu moderated by Library Director Mark Updegrove. This program is available to view in its entirely below. Humanities Texas hosted a dinner of local cuisine at the Byrne-Reed House following the program, attended by Austin-area scholars and civic leaders, including Luci Baines Johnson and Catherine Robb.
Chairman Adams spent the second day of his Texas tour in Houston, where he attended a luncheon with Rice University liberal arts and Texas Medical Center faculty, hosted by Rice's Dean of Humanities Nicolas Shumway. After lunch, Chairman Adams participated in a panel discussion—titled "The Humanities, STEM, and Medicine"—on the growing opportunities for critical engagement among the humanities, medicine, and the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields moderated by Kirsten Ostherr, professor of English at Rice. Among the panelists was Thomas Cole, director of The University of Texas Health Science Center McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics.
The chairman then met with curators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and toured the museum’s impressive exhibitions, including Mark Rothko: A Retrospective and Contingent Beauty: Contemporary Art from Latin America. On Tuesday evening, Humanities Texas board members Ginni Mithoff, Leslie Blanton, Julius Glickman, Sibyl Jackson, and their spouses hosted a reception for the Chairman at the beautiful Mithoff home.
On Wednesday morning, Chairman Adams met with faculty, staff, and students from Texas Southern University (TSU), including TSU President John Rudley, Provost James Ward, and Nikki Taylor, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Behavioral Sciences. The Chairman then concluded his time in Houston by joining faculty from the University of Houston's Center for Public History for lunch, at which he made brief remarks on the importance of humanities scholars reaching beyond the academy to engage the public.
Chairman Adams arrived in Dallas on Wednesday afternoon and toured the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum with Library Director Alan Lowe. He then visited the Meadows Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University to see the exceptional Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting exhibition with Museum Director Mark Roglán. That evening, a reception was held at the home of former Humanities Texas board member Nancy Cain Marcus. Following a breakfast conversation with SMU faculty and Dallas cultural leaders at the Meadows Museum on Thursday morning, Chairman Adams returned to Washington, DC.
During his visit to Texas, Chairman Adams announced the exciting news that NEH was awarding Humanities Texas a $500,000 Challenge Grant to endow our signature professional development program for the state's classroom teachers as well as a $168,000 Humanities in the Public Square grant and a $12,000 Common Heritage grant.