National Endowment for the Humanities Head Resigns the Day Before Trump’s Budget Drops

William D. Adams stepped down abruptly.

William D. Adams. Photo: NEH, courtesy of Colby College.

William D. Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities has resigned, and will leave his post effective tomorrow.

“Leading this important organization has been one of the most exciting and gratifying experiences of my life,” he said in a brief statement published on the NEH website. “I’m especially appreciative of the excellent and dedicated staff of the agency, who taught me so much about the importance of the humanities and the innovative and meaningful work that is going on at NEH and across the country.”

A former president of Colby College, Adams was appointed NEH head in 2014 by President Barack Obama and sought to increase the public visibility of the humanities through programs such as “Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square,” which emphasized the relevance of the humanities in contemporary society. “We wanted to show how important the humanities are to the really big questions we’re grappling with as a country and indeed as a global community.”

Although the government’s budget bill passed by Congress earlier this month increased NEH funding by $2 million until the end of the year, political blog The Hill speculated that Adams’s resignation was tied to the announcement of President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, which is due to be unveiled on Tuesday. The site noted that Trump initially called for the elimination of the NEH and the NEA in preliminary budget plans released in March.

The NEH oversees government grants for organizations and projects in the fields of history, literature, philosophy, and other humanities. Deputy Chair Margaret Plympton will serve as acting chair until a successor is appointed.


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