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Obama appoints Merrill to National Council on the Humanities
Christopher Merrill with Shambaugh House in the backgroundChristopher Merrill outside the Shambaugh House, home of the University of Iowa International Writing Program. Photo by Tim Schoon.

President Barack Obama has appointed Christopher Merrill, director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program, to the National Council on the Humanities. Merrill replaces Iris Love, whose term has expired. Merrill's appointment expires Jan. 26, 2016.

The council is the 26-member advisory body of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the NEH supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities.

NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, new technologies, exhibitions, and programs in libraries, museums, and other community places.

“I am very grateful to President Obama for giving me this chance to work with Chairman Jim Leach and the distinguished members of the National Council on the Humanities to further the mission of the NEH—promoting excellence in the humanities, the groundwork of wisdom,” Merrill says.

Merrill, 55, is a poet, essayist, journalist, and translator who led the initiative that resulted in the selection of Iowa City as a UNESCO City of Literature, a part of the Creative Cities Network. In 2011, he was appointed to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

Educated at Middlebury College and the University of Washington, he has published four collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. He has also published translations, several edited volumes, and five books of nonfiction, most recently The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War.

His work has been translated into 25 languages, and his journalism appears in many publications. For 10 years he was the book critic for the daily radio news program The World. He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross.

Read the NEH release on Merrill's appointment here.

Read more about Merrill on his website.

Learn more about the International Writing Program, part of the UI Graduate College, here.


Christopher Merrill, International Writing Program, 319-335-2609
Stephen Pradarelli, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0007


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