Letter of Support for the National Endowment for the Humanities

Monday, March 8, 2004

The following letter was sent to members of Congress on March 8, 2004:

Dear Member of Congress:

The Association of American Colleges and Universities is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Founded in 1915 by college presidents, AAC&U now represents the entire spectrum of American colleges and universities: large and small, public and private, two-year and four-year. There are more than 900 accredited member institutions, drawn in approximately equal percentages from research universities, masters institutions, and liberal arts colleges. Twelve percent of the members are two-year campuses.

I am writing to urge you to support the President’s FY 2005 request of $162 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities in the Interior Appropriations bill. The Endowment is an essential source of leadership and support for our member institutions. It provides vital support for research, education, and public programs in the humanities that preserve and study our cultural heritage.

AAC&U continues to believe fervently that cultural and historical knowledge is essential to a quality undergraduate education in the 21st century. As we recently put it in a national report, Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College, every undergraduate student “should have sustained opportunities, both in school and in college, to learn about: the human imagination, expression, and the products of many cultures, the interrelations within and among global and cross-cultural communities, and the values and histories underlying U.S. democracy.” The National Endowment for the Humanities’ investments will make a crucial difference in supporting campuses as they work to achieve these important learning outcomes for all today’s college students. These outcomes are the basis for reasoned civic discourse, and higher education’s success at providing students with these essential learning outcomes will make possible the shared reflection, communication, and participation upon which a democratic society depends.

Given the current challenging global environment, it could not be more important to strengthen the National Endowment for Humanities—a source of our nation’s strength and vitality. The increased funding for the NEH proposed in this year’s budget request could support the NEH’s continued good work and make up for recent years of severe underfunding.

The mission of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to enrich our culture and to promote knowledge, is a mission worthy of our generous and active support. The humanities play a crucial role in sustaining and renewing our democracy because they provide vital insight into the histories, values, ideals, and aspirations that make us who we are and help us envision what we can yet become. I strongly urge you to support increased funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Yours sincerely,

Carol Geary Schneider

Carol Geary Schneider