NCC Advocacy Update

NCC Advocacy Update, September 1994

Page Putnam Miller, September 1994

Senate Confirms Clinton Nominees for NEH Advisory Council

After months of delay, President Bill Clinton finally announced on June 17 ten nominees for the National Council on the Humanities, a twenty-six member body that advises the chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) on policies, programs, and procedures, as well as grant applications. On July 1 the Senate acted swiftly and confirmed these nominees for six-year terms as members of the National Council on the Humanities.

For a number of years the council has included many critics of new fields of scholarship. Sheldon Hackney, appointed last year by President Clinton to head NEH, has frequently had a tense relationship with the current council. The introduction of some new members and the departure of other members may well ease some tensions. Eleven Reagan nominees whose terms expired well over a year ago have continued to serve while awaiting the nomination and confirmation of their replacements.

Although the White House had hoped to announce eleven nominees, one of the pending nominees accepted another position in the administration, and a replacement for that vacancy has not yet been selected. To avoid further delays, a slate of only ten was forwarded to the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources.

The ten nominees are John D'Arms, a professor of classical studies who is currently vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan; Darryl J. Gless, professor of English and associate dean for general education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Ramón A. Gutiérrez, professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the University of California at San Diego; Charles Patrick Henry, associate professor of political science and African American studies at the University of California at Berkeley; Thomas C. Holt, professor of history at the University of Chicago and president of the American Historical Association; Martha C. Howell, professor of history at Columbia University and director of the university's Institute for Research on Women and Gender; Nicolas Kanellos, professor of Hispanic and classical languages at the University of Houston; Bev Lindsey, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage; Robert I. Rotberg, a research associate at the Harvard Institute for Internal Development; and Harold K. Skramstad, Jr., president of the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.

Selection of U.S. Archivist Still in Limbo

Several times during the past year, the White House seemed close to making a decision on the selection of a U.S. Archivist but then no decision was made. It appears that the process is once again stalled. Thus there is little possibility for a selection to be made, necessary background checks conducted, a confirmation hearing held, and a vote by the Senate prior to the adjournment of the 103rd Congress. Trudy Huskamp Peterson, the deputy archivist, is now beginning her nineteenth month as acting archivist.

Search on for New National Park Service Chief Historian

On June 17 National Park Service Director Roger Kennedy announced that Edwin C. Bearss will become a special assistant to the director for military sites. Bearss, a nationally recognized specialist in both the Civil and Revolutionary Wars, joined the National Park Service in 1955 as park historian at Vicksburg. Since 1981, he has been the chief historian in charge of the Divison of History. The National Park Service is currently conducting a national search for the position of chief historian, which is the senior professional program manager of the National Park Service, with responsibilities for the historical activities associated with the research, managment, interpretation, and use of historic resources in, or being considered for inclusion in, the National Park System.

Gerald George Steps Down from National Historical Publications and Records Commission

On July 25, Gerald George, the executive director of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), submitted his resignation, effective October 3, to Trudy Huskamp Peterson, the acting archivist and the acting chair of the NHPRC. George indicated that he is ending his four-year tenure with a sense of accomplishment at having successfully worked with the staff and the commission to develop a long-range plan, to reorganize the staff to carry out the plan, and to have made significant strides in implementing the plan. "It has been wonderful," he wrote, "to work for a commission that has wanted to plan for the future, and whose members have subordinated individual concerns to achieve consensus and unite in advocacy." George noted that he chose this time to resign to take advantage of the government's offer to "buy out" employees who retire or resign.

The acting archivist is currently working with commission members to develop a process for securing new leadership for the NHPRC. Since the National Archives is currently under a hiring freeze and has an acting archivist, there is a possibility that an internal person will be selected to serve in a temporary capacity until a national search can be conducted at a later time.