The Federation of State Humanities Councils and the entire humanities community suffered an inestimable loss this past week with the passing of Rob Vaughan. Rob was not just a visionary leader, an accomplished humanities scholar, and a persuasive advocate for the humanities. He was also a compassionate and generous colleague and friend. Above all, Rob believed in the power of the humanities to promote connection and community. He believed we were at our best when we worked together to achieve common goals. He lived this belief by engaging throughout his career in the national work of the state humanities councils, serving twice on the Federation board of directors (the only board member in the Federation’s history to be elected to the board two separate times). He unstintingly shared his knowledge and expertise with his council colleagues, frequently represented the councils in national settings, and consistently stepped up to support national initiatives. It didn’t stop there. He also strongly advocated for a united humanities community, highlighting the mutual benefits of cooperation between public and academic humanists. He was a founder of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), served on the NHA board, and worked tirelessly to strengthen ties between the councils and the academic community.
The state humanities council community will long remember Rob’s wisdom, humor, collegiality, and warmth and we will continue to draw inspiration from his model of civility, his commitment to ensuring that all voices are valued, and his belief in the power of unified action.