Professor Heads Board of State Council for the Humanities

Photo courtesy of NJCH

Gregory L. Waters (right) with Bruce Cole, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities

Gregory L. Waters, professor of English and director of the honors program at Montclair State University, was recently named chairman of the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH).

Jane Brailove Rutkoff, executive director of the Council, said, “It is our good fortune that Greg Waters will be taking the lead. His incredible energy, fresh ideas, and vast experience with the work of state humanities councils will surely strengthen the Council and help connect us to new and broader audiences.”

“I have always been interested in the idea of the public humanist,” stated Waters. “Throughout the country state councils create contexts for academic humanists to contribute their expertise to a variety of public issues such as literacy, citizenship and civic engagement. The humanities provide the framework for discussions of what we value most. Especially in tough times, the humanities can give us a context for matters of spirit as well as economics.”

As chairman, Waters said, he expects the Council will continue to offer the wide variety of programs, grants and awards that have marked its work to date, while planning future programs that will highlight New Jersey’s unique contributions to the cultural life of the nation, in the fields of American history, jazz and literature. In addition, Waters said, “We want to help new New Jerseyans learn more about the state and how they can become active participants in its culture.”

Waters, a resident of Montclair, joined the Board of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities in the 1980’s, after moving here from Michigan, where he worked on a project for the Michigan Humanities Council.

He was vice chairman of the Board of Trustees for two years before becoming chairman, and served as resident scholar for a Literature and Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care program for three years. Waters has been at Montclair State since 1984.

Four years ago he returned to the English Department after 20 years in university administration, serving as Deputy Provost, Interim President and Vice President for University Advancement. He has written scholarly papers, articles and reviews on topics ranging from 16th century prose style to modern American poetry, and currently teaches a variety of courses in American literature, rhetoric and drama at Montclair. He received his B.A. from Georgetown University and his Ph.D. from Rutgers.

The New Jersey Council for the Humanities is a nonprofit organization established in 1973 as the state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its 25-member Board of Trustees, drawn from academia, business, and public life, oversees the Council’s work. The mission of the Council is to develop, support and promote projects that explore and interpret the human experience, foster cross-cultural understanding and engage people in dialogue about matters of individual choice and public responsibility.

A grant program administered by NJCH and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities serves as a catalyst for public humanities programs and provides financial support for other nonprofit organizations’ special projects in areas as wide ranging as ethnic studies, history, literature, interpretation of the arts, and public policy. The Council also sponsors a series of high-quality, college-level seminars in the humanities to adults in New Jersey's underserved communities who have the potential to succeed in college, and it runs yearly residential seminars for K-12 teachers that provide a content-based approach to professional development. The Council’s Speakers Bureau supplies humanities lecturers to nonprofit organizations throughout the state.

Achievements in the humanities are celebrated with awards for Teacher of the Year, Public Humanities, Civic Leadership and Humanities Books.