Historian named temporary head of NEH





The Obama administration today named Carole McAlpine Watson as acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has filled that role since last month’s departure of Bruce Cole, who had led the endowment since 2001. Today’s announcement may be a sign that the White House does not plan to name a permanent chairman — who would be subject to Senate confirmation — for several weeks or months.

Ms. Watson has served on the endowment’s staff since 1978, most recently as assistant chairman for partnership and national affairs. She earned a doctorate in American cultural history at George Washington University and is the author of a well-regarded book, Prologue: The Novels of Black American Women, 1891-1965, published in 1985.

When The Chronicle spoke with several scholars last month about their hopes and fears for the NEH, two of them singled out Ms. Watson for praise.

Clement A. Price, a professor of history at Rutgers University at Newark, who led the Obama transition team’s review of the endowment, said Ms. Watson would be such a strong interim leader that there was no reason for the White House to rush its search for a permanent chairman....

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