With more than 25 years in leadership positions in higher education and federal agencies, Jon Parrish Peede brings a diverse set of experiences to Ashland. He has been a faculty member, fundraiser, public speaker, fiscally sound manager and strategic communicator. He is a proven consensus builder and thoughtful leader who develops relationships with a variety of stakeholders to achieve common goals.

Peede also maintains a value system that is in alignment with Ashland’s vision. In addition to being a champion for the liberal arts, he clearly grasps the value of the university’s graduate and professional programs. He believes that improved access to education, civil discourse and intellectual diversity of thought on campus, experiential learning opportunities for students and shared governance are all markers of institutional excellence.

Peede’s career has spanned six institutions, and his impressive credentials are headlined by a term as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. He led the agency from July 2017 to January 2021. The NEH chairman position is presidentially nominated and Senate confirmed—Peede was unanimously confirmed within seven weeks of nomination, an example of the bipartisan support he received.

As NEH chairman, Peede had sole authority of awarding approximately 1,000 annual grants and managed a $237 million annual budget and 170-person full-time staff. He awarded $500 million in support of liberal arts education, undergraduate and graduate curriculum innovation, museum and library programming, documentary films and multimedia works, cultural infrastructure projects and humanities scholarship.

As a high-ranking government official focused on public policy on the liberal arts, Peede spoke at dozens of campuses about the current direction of higher education. He partnered with leading academic bodies and private foundations to create innovative solutions, such as the “Cornerstone: Learning for Living” project with the Teagle Foundation. Inspired by a Purdue University program, Cornerstone reimagines the general education curriculum to develop students’ communication and creative thinking skills and broaden their perspective on the world.

While having spent his life in the South and on the East Coast, Peede is not a stranger to Ashland University. He served as a visiting faculty member of AU’s acclaimed MFA in Creative Writing program, and he has spoken in Ohio at numerous public events.

Peede was most recently an educational consultant and a faculty member in the department of English and foreign languages at Mississippi Valley State University, a historically Black college and university. Since 2022, he has been co-director of the American Civics Project, which provides K-12 educators with resources and professional development opportunities.

Peede’s professional career has also included time at the University of Virginia where he was the publisher of the award-winning “Virginia Quarterly Review,” a national journal of literature and discussion. At the National Endowment for the Arts, he served as director of “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience,” director of literature grants and counselor to then-NEA chairman Dana Gioia. At Millsaps College, Peede was the director of communications, and at Mercer University Press he edited academic books. A scholar of southern literature, he is co-editor of the essay collection “Inside the Church of Flannery O’Connor: Sacrament, Sacramental, and the Sacred in Her Fiction.”

Originally from Brandon, Miss., Peede’s passion for education and literature led him to Vanderbilt University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. He also holds a master’s degree in Southern studies from the University of Mississippi and will complete a doctorate in English pedagogy at Murray State University in May 2025. Of note, Peede is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and American Mensa.

Peede, 55, is married to Rev. Nancy Hollomon-Peede, who has been a spiritual director and minister for various denominations and churches during her 35-year career in ministry. She also served as a chaplain at Harvard University. They have a daughter, Somerset, who is pursuing a postgraduate viola performance degree at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Australia.

(Photo courtesy of Vincent Ricardel)

Jon Parrish Peede