News from the President


I’m deeply honored to succeed Pauline Yu as president of the American Council of Learned Societies.  Thanks to her wise and generous advice, and thanks to the help of many people at ACLS, I have enjoyed a smooth transition.

I come to ACLS after over a decade of university service as director of the undergraduate core curriculum and dean for humanities at New York University and as provost and interim president at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. My own research delves into Roman aesthetics and political thought and its influence into modernity. I will bring all this experience to bear in sustaining ACLS' long-standing support for scholarship and in designing new programs that respond to the dynamic landscape of academia today — in particular, the racial and economic diversification of student communities and the professoriate, changes in employment opportunities for PhDs, the impact of new media on research and the circulation of scholarship, and declining enrollments in the humanities and related social sciences at many schools — at a time when humanistic knowledge and understanding are needed more than ever.

On the relationship between understanding the world and changing it for the better, the brilliant, path-breaking writer Samuel R. Delany has written, “Sometimes you want to say things, and you’re missing an idea to make them with, and missing a word to make the idea with."  Whatever their field or interdisciplinary area, the over 300 scholars ACLS supports each year give us insights into the human condition in all its wondrous and difficult plurality — discovering ideas and composing words that illuminate our past, present, and future.

Our organization celebrates its 100th birthday on September 19. To recognize this landmark, ACLS launched a Centennial Campaign to raise $125 million in April. I’m pleased that commitments to the campaign stand at over $73 million, thanks to the leadership of our Board of Directors and our generous funders. This summer, we are embarking on a strategic planning process looking forward to our second century. While I lead ACLS through our annual work on fellowships and other programs, I will also do a good deal of traveling, with the goal of meeting people in many different types of institutions as well as people outside the academy who share an interest in ACLS’ mission to advance the humanities and social sciences.  I especially look forward to speaking with those who will help guide ACLS in our support for scholars working with the most diverse student bodies and communities, and all those devoting their energies to secure a just future for humanistic scholarship around the US and the world.

I am excited and glad to join ACLS at this moment.  I encourage you to read about our programs and the people they support: I hope you will be as inspired as I am!

Joy Connolly