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5 Things to Know About Elizabeth Alexander, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's New President

Wednesday, February 7, 2018   (0 Comments)

Photo by Andrew H. Walker for The Andrew W. Mellon FoundationThe Trustees of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have elected distinguished writer, poet, scholar, and arts advocate Elizabeth Alexander to be the Foundation’s next President, effective March 2018. Alexander will succeed Earl Lewis, who has served as President since 2013.

Elizabeth Alexander is recognized as one of the nation’s leading voices in modern literature and a bold visionary in the academy. Over the course of a distinguished academic and artistic career, she has developed a number of complex, multi-arts and multi-disciplinary teams, departments and partnerships, and dedicated herself consistently to creating, building and sustaining highly successful institutions – from the Poetry Center at Smith College, to a major rebuilding of the African American Studies department at Yale University, from the poetry non-profit Cave Canem, to the Ford Foundation’s programs in journalism, arts and culture.  

The Mellon Foundation is dedicated to the enrichment of the arts and humanities, both inside and outside of colleges and universities; these practice areas are fundamental to strengthening not only our learning institutions, but also the human spirit,” said Danielle Allen, Chair of the Mellon Foundation Board. “Through her work as a professor and mentor, Elizabeth knows the academic system well, and as an architect of interdisciplinary programs, she has deep experience in cultivating partnerships that extend and amplify creative vision. A poet who brings an artist’s forward-looking energy to institutional purpose, Elizabeth is the right person for our times as the Foundation seeks to widen the community of stakeholders committed to the arts and humanities and to increase the resources dedicated to this work.”  

I have lived my entire life with art, culture, and scholarship as companion, guide, and discipline,” said Alexander. “I am guided by the justice values of increasing access to the power of higher education to open and strengthen minds, encourage human exchange, and thus transform lives. I am deeply honored to have been selected to lead Mellon, an institution that has been devoted to these areas across its history, and to have been called to the crucial work of building community within and across discipline and institution. The humanities show us deeply who we are and what it means to move through life by the light of cultural vision. I am excited for the work ahead of elevating the truth, beauty and rigor of the arts and higher learning and making them more accessible to all.”

Read the full announcement on the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation website.

Inside Philanthorpy published article listing 5 things to know about Elizabeth Alexander. Here is the gist: 

  1. She believes strongly that the arts and humanities can advance social justice
  2. She's knows how to use her voice to be heard
  3. She'll be a bullhorn for the liberal arts
  4. She's spent years inside of academia
  5. Alexander doesn't envision any "immediate" changes (the key word being "immediate")

Read the full article on Inside Philanthropy's website.