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Release: Sept. 7, 2001

Obermann Center director elected to Humanities Iowa Board of Directors

Dr. Jay Semel of Iowa City has been elected to the board of directors of Humanities Iowa, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Semel's recommendation came from University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman.

Semel is director of the University of Iowa's Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, an interdisciplinary research center within the Office of the Vice President for Research that promotes interaction among scholars and researchers in all fields and disciplines. Semel established and now administers several Obermann Center grant programs that support interdisciplinary and collaborative scholarship.

Semel also is assistant for interdisciplinary programs to the vice president for research and the dean of the Graduate College. He serves on the Research Council and Graduate Council, and helps administer UI Interdisciplinary Graduate Degree Programs. He chaired the University of Iowa Arts and Humanities Research Task Force and he helped establish the UI Arts and Humanities Initiative, which funds UI humanities scholarship and work in the creative and performing arts. He is the UI liaison officer to Imagining America, a national association of universities promoting academic/public partnerships in the humanities.

Semel has received several Humanities Iowa grants for programming in Iowa City and he directed NEH-funded consortial projects that developed statewide public programs on the Renaissance, on science and technology, and on utopian literature and history. He has been an NEH review panelist for the divisions of Education, Research, and Public Programs. He served on the International Advisory Board of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes.

He was educated at Temple University, the University of Delaware and the University of South Carolina, was an English professor at the State University of New York-Geneseo, and was a senior Fulbright Professor in the former Yugoslavia.

Semel will serve on the Humanities Iowa board of directors, which includes David Vikturek, Mason City; John M. Lewis, West Des Moines; Jane Ann Stout, Ames; Madeleine M. Henry, Ames; Elaine Baxter, Burlington; Jane Bell, Atlantic, Gladys Buffalo Benson, Tama; Wes Boldt, Des Moines; Willard L. Boyd III, West Des Moines; Bruce Ellingson, Storm Lake; John Fitzpatrick,

Cedar Rapids; Harv Klevar, Decorah; Casey D. Mahon; Iowa City; Madelyn Mayberry, Marshalltown; Lorenzo Sandoval, Clive; Bob Schnucker, Parkersburg and Michelle Venable-Ridley, Sioux City.

Humanities Iowa is a private, non-profit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities whose mission is to enhance the civic life, culture, and identity of Iowans. Drawing on history, literature, philosophy, law, and other humanities fields, it fosters life-long learning, critical thinking, and community connections.