A Brief History of the NEH Professorship and Call for Nominations

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Distinguished Teaching Professor honors a member of Kenyon’s humanities faculty who has displayed excellence in teaching and has developed a compelling vision of how the professorship would enhance the study of the humanities at the College.  For the purpose of the Professorship, we interpret the "humanities" as broadly as NEH does -- that is, as encompassing not only the disciplines in our own Humanities Division but also all other disciplines that examine historical, literary, and philosophical questions about the human condition.  The professorship is funded by the earnings from an endowment created by a grant from the NEH and gifts from friends of Kenyon. The NEH Professorship is a three year term.

The professorship offers:

  • An annual reduction of one course in teaching load.
  • An opportunity to use the time thereby gained for a project that serves education in the humanities at the College and might consist of activities of the following types:
  1. Lecturing on and writing about the humanities.
  2. Organizing symposia or workshops that encourage reflection about the humanities.
  3. Assisting faculty colleagues in their teaching.
  4. Devising innovative new courses.

(Please note: These examples are illustrative; nominations will be assessed in part by the vision of the project that the candidate presents.)

  • An annual salary bonus of $3000 for the term of the professorship.
  • An annual program budget of $3000. 


The NEH professorship is awarded through a competitive process that involves submission of a proposal to a selection committee.  Any full time, tenured member of the Kenyon faculty who teaches a subject that NEH regards as humanistic may be eligible.  In the case of ambiguous fields, the provost will make a determination of eligibility after consulting on the matter. 

Application Process

Kenyon faculty members may apply for the fellowship or may nominate a colleague to be considered.   Nominations, consisting of a brief statement identifying the nominee and her or his faculty rank, are due by Friday, November 13, 2020.  Once the initial applications or nominations are received, we will invite all qualified candidates to submit the following material on or before December 1, 2020, to Amy Quinlivan in Bailey House. 

A complete proposal will include: 

  • A brief letter expressing interest (supplied by the candidate).
  • A one-page abstract (supplied by the candidate) of the project(s) that the candidate will engage in if chosen.
  • A current curriculum vitae.

The candidate shall request and arrange for two supporting letters from faculty colleagues to be sent electronically to Amy Quinlivan in the Office of the Provost (quinlivana@kenyon.edu) on or before December 1, 2020.  Supporting letters should address the teaching qualifications of the candidate and the strengths of the candidate’s proposed project. 

Kenyon faculty members serve as an advisory committee in the selection process.  The committee will choose three finalists from the candidates.  For each of these three, the committee will solicit letters from students named by the finalist that speak about the character of the candidate’s teaching.  The committee will also invite each of the finalists to submit a fuller description of the proposed project and to explore in an interview with the committee the finalist’s vision of the humanities and its relation to the proposed project.

NEH Professor Accomplishments

  • Howard Sacks developed the Family Farm Project.
  • Peter Rutkoff and Will Scott developed the "Great Migration Project".
  • George McCarthy's project, entitled "Democracy and Social Justice: Ancient and Modern," has resulted in two books that connected directly with courses in which students explored the links between modern social theory and the ideas of the ancients.
  • Wendy Singer's project was entitled "Migration, Diaspora, and Globalism."
  • Vernon Schubel's project was entitled "Integrating the Study of Islamic Civilization into the Liberal Arts Curriculum."
  • Katherine Hedeen's and Victor Rodriguez-Nunez's project was entitled "At the Core of the Humanities: Translation as Cultural and Social Transformation."
  • Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky promoted an interdisciplinary approach to writing, highlighting science writing as a model for writing programs across the curriculum.
  • Kate Elkins is developing a Digital Humanities program, an innovative curriculum involving the place of computation and artificial intelligence in the humanities, and a faculty-student research Colab.