Humanities Texas is pleased to announce that Michael L. Klein is the new chair of our board of directors, effective January 1, 2013. He succeeds Dr. Mary L. Volcansek, who has been chair since 2011 and will continue to serve on the board as past chair. The independent oil and gas entrepreneur, who lives in Austin, holds degrees in petroleum engineering and law from The University of Texas at Austin.

Since joining the board in 2008, Klein has had an extraordinary impact on Humanities Texas. As chair of the building committee during our capital campaign to buy and restore the historic Byrne-Reed House, his thoughtful guidance and generous support were critical to the success of the four-year endeavor. Klein, who has also served as treasurer and vice chair, was instrumental in the transformation of our Outstanding Teaching Award program into the prestigious statewide recognition it is today. His leadership was also responsible for the creation of our development staff. At the grand opening of the Byrne-Reed House, Klein and former board chair Julius Glickman received Humanities Texas Awards for their extraordinary dedication to the organization.

Klein and his wife Jeanne are among the nation's foremost supporters and collectors of contemporary art. In addition to establishing their own collection, the Kleins have donated pieces to several museums, including The University of Texas at Austin's Blanton Museum of Art. Klein also serves on the development board of The University of Texas at Austin, and chairs the University of Texas Press Advisory Council and the board of trustees of AMOA-Arthouse. He is a member of the Longhorn Foundation and the Site Santa Fe board of directors. He has previously served as a member on the board of trustees of the Whitney Museum in New York and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. Through the Klein Foundation, he and Jeanne provide mentorships and scholarships for African American junior high and high school students. Klein has also served on the board of trustees at the Cate School in Carpinteria, California, where he established an annual scholarship for minority students. The Kleins have also been actively involved with and supportive of UT Elementary School. The couple will be honored as the Austin Philanthropists of the Year at the awards luncheon of the Association of Fundraising Professionals on February 14.

Mary L. Volcansek has served on the Humanities Texas board since 2007, and as chair since 2011. Her leadership and vision were crucial in developing a strategic plan for the coming years. Volcansek guided the board and staff in envisioning a comprehensive plan for extending, enriching, and financing our programs over the next several years. Volcansek is currently professor of political science at Texas Christian University. She is also a former dean of TCU's AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences. A native of Lubbock, she returned to Texas in 2000 from Florida International University in Miami, where she had served as department chair, associate dean of arts and sciences, and acting assistant vice president for academic affairs. She has written, edited, or coauthored nine books on aspects of law, courts, and politics in the United States and in Europe, including Constitutional Politics in Italy: The Constitutional Court (2000) and Courts and Terrorism (2010). Her most recent article appeared in the European Journal of Political Science in June 2001. With John F. Stack Jr., she coedited Courts Crossing Borders: Blurring the Lines of Sovereignty (2005). She is currently working on the role of judiciaries in the consolidation of democracy.

Michael L. Klein at the grand opening of the Byrne-Reed House in October 2010.
Michael L. and Jeanne Klein in Santa Fe.
The Kleins at our December 2012 Holiday Book Fair. From left to right: author John Spong, Michael L. Klein, author Martha Braniff, and Jeanne Klein.
From left to right: Michael L. Klein, Humanities Texas chair; Michael L. Gillette, Humanities Texas executive director; Julius Glickman, Humanities Texas past chair; Carole Watson, National Endowment for the Humanities deputy chairman; the Honorable Jim Leach, National Endowment for the Humanities chairman; Mary L. Volcansek, Humanities Texas past chair; and Joseph R. Krier, Humanities Texas past chair.
Mary L. Volcansek at the grand opening of the Byrne-Reed House in October 2010.