The Santa Barbara Education Foundation will present this year’s HOPE Awards on Thursday, April 16 at a benefit to be held at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

William Adams

William Adams

The keynote speaker for the event will be William Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“This marks the first time that a chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities has addressed a group in Santa Barbara, and we are both thrilled and honored that Mr. Adams has chosen to speak at our event and to share his unique perspective and thoughts on the importance of public education,” Santa Barbara Education Foundation board chair Craig Price said.

Adams began his career in higher education by teaching political philosophy at Santa Clara University and University of Northern Carolina at Chapel Hill. Later in his career, he displayed his commitment to liberal arts by coordinating the Great Works in Western Culture Program at Stanford University. He is also the former president of Bucknell University and Colby College.

Adams has consistently demonstrated his dedication to the humanities and the belief that it is an integral aspect of education and life itself. For example, at Colby College, he led the largest capital campaign in Maine’s history, which advocated for the expansion of the Colby College Museum of Art, of the College’s curriculum in writing, and the creation of a center for the arts, humanities and film studies.

Though he has had a consistent career in education, it was interrupted by three years of Army service, including one year in Vietnam. This experience, he says, in part motivated him to study and teach the humanities.

“As a 20-year-old combat infantry advisor,” he said, “I came face to face, acutely, with questions that writers, artists, philosophers, and musicians examine in their work — starting with, ‘What does it mean to be human?’”

President Barack Obama, who appointed him as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities in April 2014, recently recognized Adams’ outstanding work.

The Santa Barbara Education Foundation is a nonprofit celebrating 30 years of supporting the programs and initiatives of the Santa Barbara Unified School District; raising private funds to provide each student with an innovative, world-class education.

The HOPE Awards will be held on April 16 at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. For more information regarding the HOPE Awards and ticket information please contact the Santa Barbara Education Foundation at 805.284.9125 or email

— Jamie Baker is the development director for the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.