National Humanities Medal
Dr. Alan Charles Kors, the George H. Walker Endowed Term Professor of History, is one of 12 recipients of the 2005 National Humanities Medal.
President George W. Bush awarded the 2005 National Humanities Medals last Thursday to 11 Americans and one scholarly research project for their contributions to the humanities. At a White House ceremony in the Oval Office, the President presented the National Humanities Medals. He and first lady Laura Bush welcomed this year’s recipients of the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal at a dinner in the White House’s State Dining Room. President Bush toasted the honorees as “the brightest lights of American creativity.”
When Bruce Cole, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, introduced Dr. Kors as a protector of “the fire of liberty on our nation’s campuses,” there was a “hear! hear!” for the professor who has “vigorously defended academic freedom.”
Dr. Kors has taught European intellectual history at Penn since 1968. He has published extensively on the conceptual revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries and was recently editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment, an international project published in four volumes in 2002.
Dr. Kors was confirmed by the United States Senate in 1992 to the National Council on the Humanities, serving in that capacity for six years. He has served on the executive boards of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and The Historical Society, where he is on the Board of Governors.
Since 1998 he has chaired the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and has won numerous awards for the defense of academic freedom. He writes and lectures widely on academic life. In 1998, he coauthored, with Harvey Silvergate, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America Campuses.
The National Humanities Medal, first awarded in 1989 by the National Endowment for the Humanities as the Charles Frankel Prize, honors individuals and organizations whose work deepens the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadens citizens’ engagement with the humanities or helps preserve and expand America’s access to important humanities resources. The National Humanities Medal was inaugurated in 1997; up to 12 medals may be awarded each year.
Nominations are reviewed by the National Council on the Humanities. The NEH chairman selects the most qualified applicants, whose names are forwarded to the White House for final consideration by the President.
The Humanities Medal is a bronze medallion, designed in 1997 by David Macaulay, the creator of Pyramid and Cathedral, and a 1995 winner of the Frankel Prize.
Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 12, November 15, 2005