Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows: Arts in Action

Based on the premise that academic institutions are places for wide-ranging inquiry, the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program brings prominent artists, diplomats, journalists, business leaders, and other nonacademic professionals to campuses across the United States for substantive dialogue with students and faculty members. Hosting a CIC Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow is one way colleges and universities can engage students, faculty members, and the greater campus community in conversations about challenging issues.
The Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows’ week-long visits are most successful when a Fellow has a broad range of expertise and the campus host constructs a schedule through which the Fellow has the opportunity to interact with varied members of the campus community in different ways. Artists, in particular, naturally excel in their capacity to work across the disciplines. A filmmaker, for example, can debate a hot topic in current events in front of a political science class, lead workshops in the fine arts department, and host a public film screening followed by a lively question-and-answer session.
Fellow Helen Whitney is one of several accomplished documentary filmmakers who grace the roster of Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows. Whitney’s recent work has dealt with issues of faith, religion, and mortality. Her film, Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate, aired on PBS several years ago, as did her documentaries The Mormons, Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero, and John Paul: The Millennial Pope. Whitney will be completing her newest film, Mortality, in late 2016. She has served as a Fellow for the past eight years and has visited the College of Saint Mary (NE), Flagler College (FL), and Whitworth University (WA) among other campuses. Her work has been nominated for an Oscar and has won an Emmy, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, a George Foster Peabody Award, Writer’s Guild of America Awards, and more.
Other documentary filmmakers serving as Fellows include:
  • Debra Chasnoff, whose films address the issues of youth, gender identity, and social bias;
  • Callie Crossley, whose film, Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, earned her an Oscar nomination and an Emmy;
  • Peter Frumkin, who has directed, written, and produced award-winning documentaries for the past 30 years with work appearing on PBS, BBC, the Discovery Channel, and the History Channel;
  • Jeffrey Lewis, a novelist and screenwriter whose work has won two Emmy Awards, a People’s Choice Award, and the Writers Guild Award; and
  • Eric Stange, an executive producer and director for Spy Pond Productions, whose films have appeared on PBS, BBC, the Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Channel. His film about former Secretary of State James Baker, The Man Who Made Government Work, received critical acclaim.
Institutions can apply now to host visits in the 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 academic years. The fee for a week-long residency is $5,950 for CIC member institutions and $6,550 for nonmembers. The fees have not increased in several years and are lower than most institutions need to pay for a single lecture by a prominent speaker. CIC covers the Fellow’s honorarium, travel, and other incidental expenses, and the host campus provides the Fellow’s housing and meals.
For more information about the program, including the searchable roster of Visiting Fellows and online campus request form, visit the program website. CIC Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program staff is available to help match campuses with Fellows based on areas of expertise or specific scheduling needs.

Helen Whitney waves while holding a pencil and wearing graduation robes
Producer, director, and writer Helen Whitney first visited Flagler College (FL) as a CIC Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow in 2009. She has been invited back to the university multiple times, including to deliver the freshman address.