President Sheldon Hackney will be nominated as chairperson of the National Endowment of the Humanities either today or Monday, an NEH official and sources said yesterday. Hackney took a 7:12 p.m. Metroliner to Washington last night so that he could be in the capital for an early meeting this morning with a Clinton administration official. He said that today is the first time he will have met with a member of the White House staff regarding the possible NEH appointment. But he added that he does not expect to be offered the job today. Martha Chowning, NEH liaison to the White House, said last night that Hackney's nomination to the NEH will be announced today or Monday. The White House press office would not confirm or deny Chowning's information yesterday. The announcement has been anticipated since the middle of February, when rumors began circulating that Hackney was on the short list to be the agency's next chairperson. By early March there were reports that Clinton had settled on Hackney. At 30th Street Station last night, Hackney said he was not nervous about this morning's meeting regarding the NEH position. "[I'm just] going down there to talk to someone in the White House," he said, as he was preparing to board the train. "This is the first [interview] I've had. I will know more tomorrow." Hackney said that he is not meeting with Clinton himself and that he will return to Philadelphia at noon today because he had scheduled a full day of appointments at the University. But Amtrak said last night that Hackney did not purchase a ticket on the noon Metroliner or any other reserved train this afternoon. Instead, the president purchased an unreserved return ticket which he can use at any time. Barbara Beck, associate director of University news and public affairs, said yesterday that her office had not prepared any press releases about Hackney's anticipated move, but said that his biography has recently been updated. The Washington Post yesterday quoted unidentified White House sources who said Hackney had already been unofficially chosen as the humanities chairperson by the Clinton administration. Since January, speculation in Washington has been that Clinton would announce his picks for the heads of the National Endowment of the Arts and Museum Services at the same time as the NEH chairperson. But it looks as if only the NEH will be named in the near future. The NEH chairperson has a four-year term and oversees a $177.4 million budget -- less than one-fifth of the University's annual budget -- that is used to fund humanities projects throughout the country. Hackney said he was first approached about today's Washington meeting early this week. "The NEH is a wonderful institution," the president said. Hackney -- who is a 12-year University veteran -- is the second-longest sitting Ivy League president. If Hackney takes the job, he will be the fourth administrator to leave the University since September. He would follow Provost Michael Aiken, who will become chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in July, Senior Vice President for Development Rick Nahm, who will become president of Knox College this summer and former Executive Vice President Marna Whittington who took a job in a private investment management firm last fall.
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