Earl Lewis Elected Next President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


New York, NY (May 2, 2012):  The Trustees of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have elected Earl Lewis to be the Foundation's next President, effective March 2013.  Lewis will succeed Don M. Randel, who has served as President since 2006, at his scheduled retirement in March.

Since July 2004 Lewis has been Emory University's Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs.  He is also the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of History and African American Studies.  As Provost, Lewis is Emory University's chief academic officer, overseeing the educational policies and priorities of the University and appointments of faculty across the schools and divisions.  Mr. Lewis is a member of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Board, and will leave his post as a term Trustee when he assumes the Presidency.

"I am thrilled to have been offered this opportunity to lead the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation," Lewis said.  "Mellon is one of this nation's most venerable philanthropic organizations.  Its commitment to advancing higher education, the arts and civil society is well established, and it has earned great respect for its leadership in bringing the resources of information technology to bear on the humanities and the arts.  With the profound challenges facing higher education, the arts, the humanities and other areas, I look forward to continuing to partner with key sectors in our society and to enlisting new collaborators in the Foundation's examination of its reach, focus, and impact."

The election of Lewis followed an extensive search carried out by the Trustees; Mr. Lewis removed himself from the search process when he was asked by the Trustees to be a candidate.  The search was led by the outgoing chair of the Mellon Foundation board, Anne M. Tatlock, who also headed the search that resulted in Don Randel’s appointment in 2006.  Ms. Tatlock said she spoke for all the Board members in expressing "enormous pleasure that Earl Lewis has agreed to become President of the Mellon Foundation in March 2013.  Earl's clear strategic thinking, ability to focus on the critical issues relating to the humanities, as well as his broad experience as a teacher, scholar and leader at major public and private research universities over more than two decades uniquely positions him to lead the Mellon in its mission."

The Foundation's incoming board chair, W. Taylor Reveley III, also spoke of Lewis in glowing terms:  "Earl Lewis will bring to the Mellon presidency a deep grounding in the humanities, as well as an intimate grasp of the challenges facing higher education and serious ideas about how to meet them.  He has had extensive experience as a leader and knows how to plan and execute.  His style of leadership is warmly collegial.  Earl is also graced with boundless energy and a powerful work ethic.  He will be a great Mellon president, in my judgment."

Earl Lewis is a historian who holds a BA (1978) from Concordia College, MA (1991) and PhD (1984) degrees from the University of Minnesota.  After spending four years as an assistant professor of African American Studies at the University of California-Berkeley, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1989, becoming director of the university's Center for Afroamerican and African Studies in 1990.  From 1998 until his departure for Emory in 2004, Lewis served as vice-provost for academic affairs/graduate studies and as Dean of Michigan's Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

Over the past quarter-century, Earl Lewis has established himself as a leading scholar in the field of African American Studies.  Since the publication of his monograph, In Their Own Interests: Race, Class and Power in Twentieth Century Norfolk (1991), he has co-authored or co-edited six books dealing with the contemporary history and social status of African Americans.  These include co-authorship of the widely acclaimed Love on Trial: An American Scandal in Black and White (with Heidi Ardizzone, 2001) and the historically vital Defending Diversity: Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan (with Patricia Gurin and Jeffrey Lehman, 2004).  Lewis is the Co-General Editor, along with Professor Robin Kelley of UCLA, of the eleven-volume Young Oxford History of African Americans (1994-97).  He is also the author of more than two dozen scholarly articles that range across multiple horizons, including race, ethnicity, and social class, urban studies and higher education.  His current historical project is a book-length study of black schoolteachers from 1896 to 1954.

Lewis is well known for his leadership in higher education at the national level.  A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Boards of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Center for Research Libraries, he has served on the American Historical Association's Futures Committee, on the AAU Task Force on improving Graduate Education and Early Research Careers, on the Boards of Directors of Emeriti Retirement Health Solutions and the Council of Graduate Schools, and on the editorial boards of numerous scholarly journals and book series.  He is currently a member of the Department of Education’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.

Mellon President Don Randel, who will continue his work as a scholar in musicology and as an advocate for the humanities, welcomed the news that Lewis will be his successor.  "Earl Lewis knows the values of the Mellon Foundation, and he shares them.  His work as a scholar and a university administrator places him at the center of the world of humanistic research and teaching that the Foundation has long supported.  I look forward to seeing him carry on this unique tradition as president."

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which is headquartered in New York City, makes grants principally in five core program areas:  higher education and scholarship, libraries and scholarly communications, conservation and the environment, museums and art conservation, and performing arts.  Additionally, Mellon has been instrumental in the development of ARTstor, JSTOR, and Ithaka, non-profit organizations engaged in furthering the uses of information technology to benefit higher education around the world.  It had $5.3 billion in total assets as of April 1, 2012, and provided $230 million in grants in 2011.

For more information, contact

Michele S. Warman