Edward Villella elected to Academy of Arts and Sciences

Edward Villella elected to Academy of Arts and Sciences | Danza Ballet 
Edward Villella elected to Academy of Arts and Sciences | Danza Ballet 

American Academy Announces 2009 Class of Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members New Members Include Edward Villella.

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences recently announced the election of leaders in the sciences, the humanities and the arts, business, public affairs, and the nonprofit sector. The 212 new Fellows and 19 Foreign Honorary Members join one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies and a center for independent policy research.

Among those elected this year are Edward Villella, Founding Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer of Miami City Ballet. Villella was a star principal dancer at New York City Ballet under George Balanchine in the late 1950s through the early 1970s. Since 1986, he has focused his talent, his intelligence, and his energy on creating and maintaining a world-famous ballet company in South Florida. In recognition of his achievements, President Clinton presented Mr. Villella with the 1997 National Medal of Arts.  Also in 1997, he was named a Kennedy Center Honoree, and was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. This election to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences is an important addition to the many recognitions that Villella has received during his luminous career.

Since its founding by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, the Academy has elected as members the finest minds and most influential leaders from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the twentieth. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

The scholars, scientists, jurists, writers, artists, civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders of the Academy come from 28 states and 11 countries and range in age from 33 to 83. They represent universities, museums, national laboratories, private research institutes, businesses, and foundations. This year’s group also includes Nobel laureates and recipients of the Pulitzer and Pritzker prizes, MacArthur Fellowships, Academy, Grammy, and Tony awards, and the National Medal of Arts.

Scientists among the new Fellows include: co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology Mario Capecchi, recognized for his contributions to gene targeting; physicist Lene Hau, whose experimental work  succeeded in stopping a beam of light; mathematician and Fields Medal winner Terence Tao; Pathologist Peter Nowell, who revolutionized our understanding of the genetic basis of cancer; astronomer Eric Becklin, whose pioneering infrared observations led to the first glimpse of the nucleus of the Milky Way; astrophysicist Guinevere Kauffmann, whose techniques calculate numerically the creation and evolution of galaxies and black holes in the early universe; and chemical engineer Adam Heller, whose numerous inventions include the lithium chloride battery and photochemically self-cleaning windows.

In the humanities and arts, new members include, among others: Civil War historian James McPherson; biographer Robert Caro; author Thomas Pynchon; choreographers Trisha Brown and Bill T. Jones; actors Dustin Hoffman and James Earl Jones; mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne; singer/songwriter Emmylou Harris; and jazz musician Kenny Barron.

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III; California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George; and legal scholar and Bancroft Prize-winning author Michael Klarman are among those elected in law. They join members of the Academy who serve as justices of the U. S. Supreme Court and several state supreme courts, along with other leading jurists and legal scholars.

In public affairs and business, the Academy elected U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; National Public Radio journalist Susan Stamberg; green technology proponent John Doerr, Exelon Corporation CEO John Rowe, and Chiron Corporation founder Edward Penhoet. 

The Academy elected 19 Foreign Honorary Members from Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada, and Israel. They include: 1993 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela, who guided the reconciliation of South Africa in the post-Apartheid era; U2 lead singer and advocate for humanitarian causes, Bono; South African Constitutional Court Justice Kate O’Regan; British actress Judith Dench; Indian cultural historian Romila Thapar; 2009 Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor; Hong Kong-based filmmaker Kar-Wai Wong; Irish poet Michael Longley; and the president of the German Academy of Sciences, Volker ter Meulen.

Among the leaders of higher education institutions are: H. Kim Bottomly (Wellesley College); John Casteen III (University of Virginia); Ronald Daniels (Johns Hopkins University); Maria Klawe (Harvey Mudd College); Joseph Polisi (The Julliard School) and James Wagner (Emory University).

The Academy, established in 1780 by founders of the nation, undertakes studies of complex and emerging problems. Current projects focus on science, technology and global security; social policy and American institutions; the humanities and culture; and education. The Academy’s membership of scholars and practitioners from many disciplines and professions gives it a unique capacity to conduct a wide range of interdisciplinary, long-term policy research.

“Since 1780, the Academy has served the public good by convening leading thinkers and doers from diverse perspectives to provide practical policy solutions to the pressing issues of the day,” said Leslie Berlowitz, Chief Executive Officer and William T. Golden Chair. “I look forward to welcoming into the Academy these new members to help continue that tradition.”

“These remarkable men and women have made singular contributions to their fields, and to the world,” said Academy President Emilio Bizzi. “By electing them as members, the Academy honors them and their work, and they, in turn, honor us.”

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 10, at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A complete list of newly elected Fellows and Honorary Foreign Members with their affiliations is located at: www.amacad.org

Edward Villella elected to Academy of Arts and Sciences | Danza Ballet

Edward Villella, Founding Artistic Director, Miami City Ballet. Photo by Philip Bermingham.

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