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Release: Immediate

President Coleman signs letter urging Congress to increase NEH funding

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman is among 76 presidents and chancellors of some of the largest research universities in the country who have signed a letter urging Congress to bolster funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The letter, addressed to Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, expresses the presidents' "strong support" of the NEH and their desire to stop the erosion of funding to the agency. "Apart from colleges and universities, the NEH is the nation's largest sponsor of the humanities and plays a critical role on university campuses and communities in helping all Americans to appreciate and participate in the humanities," the letter states.

Since 1995 the NEH has come under increased Congressional scrutiny and has experienced dramatic budget cuts. The NEH's national programs, which support activities involving universities, are now operating at 40 percent of their fiscal year 1995 level.

"The federal government has an essential leadership role in supporting the humanities, and it is clear that neither states nor the private sector has the incentive to fill the broad role of the NEH," the letter says.

Among the presidents signing the letter are Martin Jischke, president of Iowa State University; Hunter Rawlings, president of Cornell University and former UI president; and Constantine Curris, president of Clemson University and former president of the University of Northern Iowa.

The University of Iowa has been a national leader in supporting funding for the arts and humanities. In the wake of federal budget cuts, UI Vice President for Research David Skorton set aside monies for arts and humanities research proposals on campus. Also, he and Coleman have won legislative budget support for arts and humanities initiatives, and Skorton has appointed a special task force to advise the university in bolstering the role and funding of arts and humanities on campus.

5/15/97