Former National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman William “Bro” Adams will speak at College of the Atlantic on July 20. PHOTO COURTESY OF COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC

Ex-endowment director to speak about humanities

BAR HARBOR— Former National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman William “Bro” Adams will speak on “Wicked Problems: The Importance of the Humanities in the Time of STEM” at College of the Atlantic’s Thomas S. Gates Jr. Community Center on Thursday, July 20, at 5 p.m. The speech is free and open to the public.

Adams, former president of Colby College and Bucknell University, was the 10th chair of the NEH from 2014 until stepping down in May of this year. He’ll speak about the importance of the humanities for American democracy and as a crucial balance to quickly evolving technological developments.

“Recent advances in the STEM fields have changed our lives in very important and positive ways. But they’ve also created challenges that cannot be addressed by technical and scientific means,” Adams said. “More than ever, we need the humanities to help us understand and sort out the legacies of our technical prowess and progress.”

A native of Birmingham, Mich., and son of an auto industry executive, Adams earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Colorado College and a doctorate from the University of California at Santa Cruz History of Consciousness Program. He studied in France as a Fulbright Scholar before beginning his career in higher education with appointments to teach political philosophy at Santa Clara University in California and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He went on to coordinate the Great Works in Western Culture program at Stanford University and to serve as vice president and secretary of Wesleyan University. He became president of Bucknell University in 1995 and president of Colby College in 2000.

At Colby, Adams led a $376 million capital campaign, the largest in Maine history, which included expansion of the Colby College Museum of Art and the gift of the $100 million Lunder Collection of American Art.

Adams, nicknamed “Bro” by his father in honor of a friend who died in World War Two, is married to Lauren Sterling and has a daughter and a stepson.

College of the Atlantic’s annual summer event series, including Coffee and Conversation events, evening lectures and the inaugural Champlain Institute, focuses on the importance of the humanities this year with a program of free presentations, conversations and art from July through August. The summer series is underwritten by the College of the Atlantic Champlain Society. Visit

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