Press Release

President Obama announces nomination of Dr. William “Bro” Adams to head National Endowment for the Humanities


For more information contact:
Carlos Velazquez
Illinois Humanities Council

CHICAGO, IL – The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) congratulates Dr. William “Bro” Adams on his White House nomination as the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). 

In his statement, President Obama said, “Bro brings demonstrated leadership and decades of experience as an administrator at major universities and liberal arts institutions. His clear dedication and lifelong commitment to the humanities make him uniquely qualified to lead the nation’s cultural agency. I’m proud to nominate Bro as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and look forward to working with him in the months and years to come.” 

The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is one of the 56 state and territorial councils that are funded in part by the NEH, and  supports or conducts free programs that bring people together to talk about issues that matter, and that make the humanities a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities in Illinois.   

Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director of the IHC, said after the White House announcement,  “We are very pleased with the announcement of Dr. Adams’ nomination to this important position and look forward to working with him, once he is confirmed, to further strengthen the crucial partnership between the NEH and the Illinois Humanities Council. Both his rich and varied background and his many accomplishments at Colby College reflect a strong and energetic leadership style, an asset in the ongoing effort to expand the public’s engagement with and support for the humanities.” 


Currently, Dr. Adams serves as president of Colby College in Maine, a position he’s held since 2000. At Colby College, Dr. Adams led a $376 million capital campaign, the largest in Maine’s history.  The results included expansion of the Colby College Museum of Art, a major gift of the Lunder Collection of American Art, the creation of a center for arts and humanities, a film studies program, and expansion of the college’s creative writing curriculum. 

Previously, Dr. Adams was President of Bucknell University from 1995 to 2000 and Vice President and Secretary of Wesleyan University from 1993 to 1995. Earlier, he was Program Coordinator of the Great Works in Western Culture program at Stanford University and held teaching positions at Stanford University, Santa Clara University, and the University of North Carolina. Dr. Adams received a B.A. from the Colorado College and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1977, he was a Fulbright Scholar conducting research in Paris, France. 

In addition to his many years in academia, Dr. Adams served three years in the U.S. Army, including a year in Vietnam. 

About the Illinois Humanities Council 

The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is a philanthropic and educational organization dedicated to making the humanities a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities in Illinois, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. This year, it marks 40 years of developing or funding educational activities and programs throughout the state, including lectures, seminars, performances, exhibitions, films, library discussions, and written materials – all free and open to the public. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) supported by state, federal, and private funds. 

For more information about the Illinois Humanities Council, please visit