Professional News

Vance Brings Passion to Humanities Council

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 4, 2010)University of Kentucky English and honors program professor Jane Gentry Vance has attained an enviable record of advocating for the humanities through her work as the Commonwealth's Poet Laureate, her participation in the Kentucky Humanities Council Speaker's Bureau, as well as its Lincoln celebration, among other activities.

But it's her zeal for telling Kentucky's story that stands out most to Kentucky Humanities Council Executive Director Virginia Carter.

"Jane is passionate about Kentucky, she is passionate about writing and she is passionate about telling Kentucky's story," explained Carter. "When she was willing to add the council to her list, we enthusiastically voted her in."

Vance has been elected to serve on the Kentucky Humanities Council's 23-person volunteer board of directors, which sets council policies, awards project grants to community organizations and participates in fundraising to help the council meet its programming demand.

Based in Lexington, the council and its community partners invest more than $1 million a year in support of public humanities programs throughout the state.

Vance was the perfect fit for the job, according to Carter. "The responsibility will increase, and despite being forewarned, Jane has agreed," she laughed. "But while this new responsibility will take more of Jane's hours, we feel that it is an expansion of her passion."

Vance earned a bachelor’s degree from Hollins College in Virginia, a master’s degree from Brandeis University in Massachusetts and a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

She is the author of "Portrait of the Artist as a White Pig", a collection of poems, published by the Louisiana State University Press in 2006; "A Year in Kentucky: A Garland of Poems," a collection of poems published by Press Eight Seventeen in 2005; and "A Garden in Kentucky," a collection of poems, published by the Louisiana State University Press in 1995. Her work also has been published in renowned anthologies and journals including Harvard Magazine, Southern Poetry Review, the American Voice and Humanities in the South.

Vance has received numerous awards for her work including the Kentucky Arts Council’s Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship for poetry (1992 and 2003); Virginia Center for Creative Arts Fellowship; a Yaddo Fellowship and a Voices and Visions grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.

She began her teaching career at Georgetown College and has been a member of the University of Kentucky faculty for more than 35 years. A native of Kentucky, Vance served as the state’s poet laureate 2007-2009.

The Kentucky Humanities Council is a nonprofit Kentucky corporation affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities. For information about the council’s programs and services, visit