8 Academics Are Among Winners of 2012 National Humanities Medals

President Obama on Monday announced the 12 winners of the 2012 National Humanities Medals, which honor historians, cultural scholars, and others for work that has “deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.”

The winners include eight people with academic ties: Edward L. Ayers, a historian who is president of the University of Richmond; William G. Bowen, an economist and former president of Princeton University; Jill Ker Conway, an author and former president of Smith College; Natalie Zemon Davis, a historian who has taught at institutions including Princeton and the University of Toronto; Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government; Marilynne Robinson, an author and faculty member in the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop; Kay Ryan, a poet who taught for more than 30 years at the College of Marin, a community college in California; and Anna Deavere Smith, a professor of performance studies at New York University.

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