Media Advisory

Jon Parrish Peede, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Visits University of Florida

The Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere at the University of Florida will celebrate the Ten-Year Anniversary of its launch in 2019.

Founded in 2005 and launched in 2009, the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere is directed by Dr. Barbara Mennel, Associate Professor of English and German. The Center will host a celebration kick-off event in Smathers Library 100 on April 5, 2019 from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm EST.

The formal program will feature a welcome address from Kent Fuchs, President of the University of Florida. Steve Seibert, Executive Director of the Florida Humanities Council will introduce Jon Parrish Peede, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, who will deliver the keynote address. This marks the first visit of a sitting NEH Chairman to the state of Florida in more than 20 years.

Chairman Peede will be available for interviews and photos. Excerpts of his speech can also be made available to members of the press beforehand upon request.

Following Dr. Peede’s keynote, attendees will enjoy a showcase of current humanities projects at the University of Florida. Rothman Chair and Director of the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, Dr. Barbara Mennel says: “The anniversary of the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere at the University of Florida is a great occasion to take stock and look forward as we engage campus with its many constituencies and the public in questions of human and cultural values. Collaborating with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Florida Humanities Council has allowed us to engage with diverse communities in Florida.

Our name “Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere” spells out our program to engage communities in Gainesville and North Central Florida in pressing questions from water and sustainability to history and culture. We are proud of many scholars and programs we have funded and look forward to the next decades.”

Since its founding, the UF Humanities Center has distributed over $1.1 million in fellowships, grants, and co-sponsorships to UF faculty, students, staff, and Gainesville community partners for over 420 unique research projects, teaching activities, and events. These include public programs organized in partnership with the Latina Women’s League, Alliance Française de Gainesville, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Gainesville Modern, UNESCO-Transatlantic Slave Trade initiative, Working Food, Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice, Seahorse Key Marine Lab, and Sequential Arts Workshop. The Center has supported over 80 internal faculty and doctoral fellows, has supported the publication of nine humanities books, and created 16 team-taught classes. These programs have been supported by grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Florida Humanities Council, Southeastern Conference, National Science Foundation, and Department of Defense.

Jon Parrish Peede’s previous positions include publisher of the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR) at the University of Virginia, literature grants director at the National Endowment for the Arts, counselor to NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, director of the NEA Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience program, director of the NEA Big Read program, director of communications at Millsaps College, and editor at Mercer University Press with a focus on the humanities.

Contact: Barbara Mennel, 352-392-0796

Editor’s Note: Media wishing to attend the event are asked to RSVP with Margot Winick,, 352-846-3903.