William D. “Bro” Adams, former president of Colby College and past chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will continue advocating for arts funding and the role of the humanities in American culture through a one-year appointment as a senior fellow with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

William Adams Colby College photo by Fred Field

Adams, who lives in Falmouth, will begin his job with the New York-based foundation Aug. 1. The Mellon Foundation supports higher education, the arts and humanities with research and funding.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to extend my engagement with the humanities,” Adams said in a phone interview Tuesday. “The Mellon Foundation is a wonderful organization and one of the principal funders of humanities work in the country.”

Adams resigned as NEH chairman in May and, at the time, pledged to lead a national discussion about the importance of arts funding, which is under pressure from the Trump administration. Trump has advocated for deep cuts to federally funded arts organizations.

A political appointee of former President Barack Obama, Adams wasn’t comfortable speaking about arts funding while he worked at the NEH under the Trump administration.

The position with the Mellon Foundation gives him a national platform. “It’s a wonderful way to continue the work I am doing to make the case for the NEH and the humanities,” he said. “I want to continue to address the way in which the humanities help us understand our contemporary circumstances, and I plan to both speak and write around the country about that very important issue and hope to take some of the things I have been working on at NEH and develop them further.”

After arriving at the NEH in 2014, Adams launched an agency-wide initiative, “The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square,” that attempts to demonstrate the relevance of the humanities during domestic and global challenges.

“Bro has been a stalwart public servant, highly regarded educational leader, and steadfast defender of the importance of the arts and humanities to the well-being of a vibrant, literate democracy,” Mellon Foundation President Earl Lewis said in a statement.

Michael S. McPherson, outgoing president of the Spencer Foundation, also was appointed a senior fellow.

Adams was president of Colby from 2000 to 2014.

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