Harold Holzer Named Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College
Harold Holzer in his home in Rye, N.Y. He is the next director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. Credit: Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times
August 13, 2015-Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab today announced the appointment of Harold Holzer as the Jonathan F. Fanton Director of the College's Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. Holzer, who until last month was the Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is one of the nation's foremost scholars on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era.
In his new role at Roosevelt House, which since its opening in 2010 has become a magnet for some of the world's top public policy and human rights leaders, Holzer will oversee the institute's public programming, student curricula and academic research. He also will work with President Raab and Hunter's provost to continue to refine the institute's role as a leading center of public discourse in New York City and around the world. Holzer also will serve on the Hunter faculty as a professor in the history department.
Holzer's position at Roosevelt House is named for its first director, Jonathan F. Fanton, the former president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and of the New School, who left Roosevelt House in 2014 to become president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Jack Rosenthal, the distinguished New York Times journalist, editor and executive, served as the interim director for the past year.
"As a preeminent presidential scholar who went on to an extraordinary career in government, public policy and communications, no one understands the mission of Roosevelt House better than Harold Holzer," said President Raab. "He is uniquely suited to lead a thriving center for public policy and important human rights figures to a new level of prominence, and sustain the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt for our students and the public now and for generations to come. Harold also is a lifelong New Yorker and the product of the CUNY system who worked for one of Hunter's greatest alumnae, the late Congresswoman Bella Abzug. All of us at Hunter are delighted to welcome Harold."
Holzer has written, co-authored, or edited 50 books about Lincoln and the Civil War period, and contributed hundreds of articles about both subjects to various magazines and journals, as well as chapters and introductions for more than 60 other books. A peripatetic lecturer, Holzer has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2008 National Humanities Medal from former President George W. Bush and the coveted 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize for his most recent book, "Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion." In addition, President Clinton named Holzer in 2000 to the national Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which he co-chaired for eight years, and since then has chaired its successor organization, the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation.
"What I particularly love about Roosevelt House is that President Raab has made it both a touchstone to the past and a laboratory for the future," said Holzer. "It's a landmark home where an exceptional President and First Lady worked to advance freedom. And it's become a center for dialogue about policy and human rights that challenge us today. I've been fortunate to lead a professional life devoted to public affairs, the civic realm and American history, and Roosevelt House represents all this and more, at the highest levels. I look forward to working with Roosevelt House's fine professional and academic staffs, and President Raab and her team at Hunter to build on the institute's many accomplishments."
Prior to joining the Met more than two decades ago, Holzer was the public information director at WNET/Channel 13, and after that worked at the New York State Urban Development Corporation under the late Governor Mario M. Cuomo. He started his career as a newspaper reporter and editor before serving as a campaign and congressional press secretary for Congresswoman Abzug, who graduated from Hunter in 1942, and then as a press secretary on Cuomo's New York City mayoral campaign. Holzer was educated at Queens College, and also has been awarded seven honorary degrees. He is married and has two adult children and a grandson.
The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College
Roosevelt House, an integral part of Hunter College since 1943, re-opened in 2010 as a public policy institute honoring the distinguished legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Its mission is three-fold: to educate students in public policy and human rights, to support faculty research, and to foster creative dialogue. The new institute provides opportunities for students to analyze public policy and experience meaningful civic engagement; for faculty to research, teach, and write about important issues of the day; and for scholarly and public audiences to participate in high-profile lectures, seminars, and conferences.