HI Board elects ISU professor new president

The University Professor of English at Iowa State University, Dr. Neil Nakadate, was elected president of the Humanities Iowa board of directors during the group’s recent meeting in Ames.

Other officers elected at the meeting include Vice President Fiona Valentine of Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City, Secretary Barb O’Hea of Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, and Treasurer Tim Johnson, a businessman from Washington.

HI is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and serves more than 70,000 Iowans with humanities programming and projects totaling more than $1.5 million. At the Ames board meeting, HI awarded $160,036 in grants to 17 different organizations around the state.

It’s an honor to be given this chance to lead a vital and successful organization that impacts communities and individuals throughout the state," Nakadate said. "My work on the Humanities Board has been gratifying, and I look forward to this enhanced opportunity to have an impact on the organization’s mission."

Nakadate was born in Indiana and raised in Portland, Ore. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in English at Stanford University and his MA and PhD from Indiana University at Bloomington. He has been a professor at Iowa State since 1977.

Among his publications are "Understanding Jane Smiley" (University of South Carolina Press, 1999 and 2009), "A Rhetoric of Doing: Essays on Written Discourse in Honor of James L. Kinneavy" with Stephen Witte and Roger Cherry (South Illinois University Press, 1992) and "Writing in the Liberal Arts Tradition: A Rhetoric with Readings" with James L. Kinneavy and William J. McCleary (Harper & Row, 1985 and 1990).

Nakadate has been a member of the HI board since 2005. He said that the humanities help us describe and comprehend both our public and private lives.

"The humanities help us understand who we are and what is truly important to us," Nakadate said. "The humanities are the human story – our history, our aspirations, our efforts to make our lives and live together."

He said that, as president, he would like to see HI continue to support a wide range of projects as initiated by community groups and cultural organizations around the state.

"Humanities Iowa has been working hard and successfully to promote humanities programs in previously under-served areas of the state," Nakadate said. "I would like to see that continue."

HI executive director Christopher Rossi said that Nakadate’s leadership and work with the humanities will be an asset for the organization.

"Neil will be a terrific leader for Humanities Iowa," Rossi said. "He has more than 30 years of experience working in the humanities at Iowa State. That, plus his extensive knowledge of the state, will make him a real asset to the organization."

Other new members elected to the HI board at the Ames meeting include Steve Siegel (Ottumwa), Jeff Heland (Burlington), Ken Lyftogt (Cedar Falls), and Sue Cosner (Panora).

The mission of Humanities Iowa is to promote understanding and appreciation of the people, communities, cultures, and stories of importance to Iowa and the nation.