Alumnus appointed to national humanities and social sciences commission

Willamette University alumnus James Cuno ’73 was one of 42 commissioners recently appointed to a newly created national Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences to bolster teaching and research in those fields.

Created by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems — the commission includes prominent Americans from the humanities, social sciences, physical and life sciences, business, law, philanthropy, the arts and the media.

Cuno, who majored in history at Willamette, is president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago. Prior to that, he was a professor and director of the Harvard University Art Museums. He has written and lectured extensively worldwide on topics ranging from French caricature of the 18th and 19th centuries to contemporary American art, as well as the role of art museums in contemporary American cultural policy.

He will serve alongside prominent academic leaders, politicians, university presidents, business executives, former Supreme Court Justice David Souter and notable people from the arts, including documentarian Ken Burns, musician Emmylou Harris, actor John Lithgow and producer and director George Lucas.

The commission, formed in response to a bipartisan request from several U.S. senators, will work for the next 18 to 24 months to recommend specific, actionable steps to maintain the nation’s excellence in the humanities and social sciences. They will focus on education, research and the institutions critical to advancing the country’s humanities and social sciences.

“The humanities and social sciences provide the intellectual framework for the nation’s economic, political and governing institutions,” said commission co-chair Richard Brodhead, president of Duke University. “They enrich our lives and our understanding. Americans already appreciate the importance of math and science to our future; this commission will remind Americans of the long-term importance of the liberal arts as well.”