Dr. Bruce Cole served on Constituting America’s National Advisory Board and as one of our artwork judges since our founding 2010. We are incredibly indebted to Dr. Cole for his advice and guidance when we began Constituting America and are proud to keep him in our memory and h0nor him on this page.
Dr. Cole was the President and CEO of the American Revolution Center (ARC), the first national institution devoted to exploring the history and continuing impact of the American Revolution. Before coming to ARC, Cole served as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), where he managed a budget of $150 million and a staff of 170 and was responsible for awards totaling over $800 million dollars. Appointed by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2001 and again in 2005, Cole was the longest serving Chairman of the NEH. Under Cole’s leadership, the NEH launched key initiatives, including We the People, a program designed to encourage the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture, and the Picturing America project, which uses great American art to teach our nation’s history and culture in 80,000 schools and public libraries nationwide. He also created the NEH’s Digital Humanities Initiative and Office which made the Endowment a national leader in this new frontier of humanities access and knowledge. Under his tenure partnerships were developed with several foreign countries, including Mexico and China.
Cole’s connection with the Endowment began when he received an NEH fellowship. He subsequently served as a panelist in NEH’s peer review system, and then as a member for seven years of the National Council on the Humanities, the presidentially appointed and senate-confirmed 26-member NEH advisory board. Cole came to the Endowment in December 2001, from Indiana University in Bloomington, where he was Distinguished Professor of Art History and Professor of Comparative Literature. In 2008, he received the President’s Medal from the University for “excellence in service, achievement and teaching.” In 2006, Governor Mitch Daniels awarded Cole the Sagamore of the Wabash, which recognizes individuals who have brought distinction to the state of Indiana.
The medal is one of the highest honors the President can confer upon a civilian, second only to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Earlier in 2008, Cole was decorated Knight of the Grand Cross, the highest honor of the Republic of Italy.