ANNAPOLIS, Md., Nov. 15, 2005 - Eva Brann, a tutor at St. John’s College in Annapolis, is one of 12 recipients of the 2005 National Humanities Medal. President George Bush presented the medal to Miss Brann and other distinguished scholars in a ceremony at the White House Thursday, November 10. It is the first time a St. John’s faculty member has received this prestigious national award.
The National Humanities Medal, first awarded in 1989 as the Charles Frankel Prize, honors individuals and organizations whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand America’s access to important humanities resources.
Miss Brann is the longest-serving tutor at St. John’s College, which is known for a curriculum centered on the study of the seminal works of Western civilization. She joined the college in 1957. A Jewish immigrant from Berlin, Miss Brann went to Brooklyn College and later earned her master’s in classics and a doctoral degree in archaeology at Yale University. At St. John’s, she was the first woman to be named dean, serving in this important position from 1990-97.
The St. John’s College community was pleased and proud to hear of Miss Brann’s award, said St. John’s President Christopher Nelson. “Eva has been a member of the faculty for nearly 50 years,” he said. “She has touched the lives of more students, alumni, and friends of the college than anyone ever has. She has long been our most effective and beloved ambassador. Eva is a gift to the spirit of liberal education.”
St. John’s Dean Michael Dink described Miss Brann as a “model tutor.” “She set a daunting standard for all subsequent deans in terms of intellectual leadership,” he said. “She has also been an articulate spokesperson for the value of the liberal arts. She is sensitive and attentive to the needs of the community.”
Alumni, Mr. Dink noted, “are devoted to her,” and when Miss Brann teaches community offerings, such as Summer Classics in the college’s Santa Fe program, her classes fill immediately. “She has both intellectual and philosophical depth, and yet she’s plainspoken. She can bring a philosophical problem to life with her insight.”
Miss Brann’s latest book is Open Secrets / Inward Prospects: Reflections on World and Soul (2004). She has produced many publications, including Homeric Moments: Clues to Delight in Reading the Odyssey and the Iliad (2002); The Music of The Republic: Essays on Socrates’ Conversations and Plato’s Writings (2004); The World of the Imagination (1992); What Then, Is Time? (1999); and The Ways of Naysaying: No, Not, Nothing, and Nonbeing (2001). Brann’s long history of academic posts and honors includes fellowships with NEH and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a seat on the Maryland Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1988-1996).
The other honorees include: Walter Berns, professor emeritus at Georgetown University and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; etiquette columnist Judith Martin, also known as Miss Manners; Col. Matthew Bogdanos, who led the investigation into the 2003 destruction of the Iraq Museum, an effort that has led to the recovery of 5,000 artifacts; historian John Lewis Gaddis; legal scholar Mary Ann Glendon; historian Alan Kors; art historians and appraisers Leigh and Leslie Keno; history and museum patrons Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman; and an editorial team working on George Washington's papers at the University of Virginia.