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James Leach, Chairman of the NEH, Visits NMM Galleries

James Leach, Chairman of the NEH

James Leach, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, visited the NMM on September 29, prior to addressing the campus community at the Al Neuharth Media Center. His lecture, “Civility in a Fractured Society,” was presented as part of a fifty-state “American Civility Tour: Bridging Cultures.” Leach remarked to his USD audience that “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 is the ninth chairman of the NEH, an independent grant-making agency of the U.S. government, dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programming in the humanities. Nominated by President Barack Obama on July 9, 2009, and confirmed by the Senate in early August, Leach began his four-year term as NEH Chairman on August 12, 2009.

Leach previously served thirty years representing southeastern Iowa in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he chaired the Banking and Financial Services Committee, the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and founded and co-chaired the Congressional Humanities Caucus.

After leaving Congress in 2007, Leach joined the faculty at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School where he was the John L. Weinberg Visiting Professor of Public and International Affairs until his confirmation as NEH chairman. In September 2007, he took a leave of absence from Princeton and served as interim director of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

A recipient of several awards, including the Sidney R. Yates Award for Distinguished Public Service to the Humanities and the Woodrow Wilson Award from The Johns Hopkins University, Leach earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and a master’s degree in Soviet politics from The Johns Hopkins University.

Following his visit to the NMM, his lecture at USD, and a gala dinner at the Muenster University Center, Leach traveled to Sioux Falls to attend a reception co-hosted by the South Dakota Humanities Council and the Center for Western Studies, for whom he presented a lecture, “Bridging Cultures: America & the Muslim World,” at the Holiday Inn City Centre, the following day. Leach’s visit marked the first time any NEH Chairman has visited South Dakota.

Leach Tours the NMM

Leach is guided through the Abell Keyboard Gallery
Dean Larry Schou points out a detail in the Abell Keyboard Gallery
Deborah Check Reeves shows Leach the Amati 'King' cello
Sarah Richardson points out a detail to Chairman Leach
Leach visits the Beede Gallery
Staff members visit with Leach in NMM Lobby

NMM staff, members of the NMM Board of Trustees, and representatives of the USD Administration accompanied Leach on his tour of the NMM’s galleries.

Return to NMM Newsletter Index (December 2010)

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Most recent update: January 3, 2011

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