Three Yale affiliates elected to American Philosophical Society

David Blight, Mary Miller, and Indra Nooyi
David Blight, Mary Miller, and Indra Nooyi

Three Yale affiliates are among the 36 distinguished scholars and leaders elected to the American Philosophical Society at its April meeting. They are historian David Blight, former Yale College Dean and art historian Mary Miller, and Yale School of Management alumna Indra Nooyi, a former senior trustee on the Yale Board of Trustees and former PepsiCo CEO.

Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, the American Philosophical Society is the oldest learned society in the United States. It was established for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.” It honors leading scholars, scientists, and professionals through elected membership and opportunities for interdisciplinary intellectual fellowship, particularly in its semi-annual meetings. The society also supports research and discovery through grants and fellowships, lectures, publications, prizes, exhibitions, and public education. It promotes a forum for a free exchange of ideas with the belief that intellectual inquiry and critical thought are “inherently in the best interest of the public.”

David Blight is Sterling Professor of History, of African American Studies, and of American Studies. A member of the Yale faculty since 2003, he is also director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale. Considered one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the Civil War and its legacy, he has written or edited more than a dozen books on that subject, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” which also won the Bancroft Prize, among other honors. His other books include “American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era” and “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory,” as well as two annotated editions of Frederick Douglass’ autobiographies. Blight serves on the boards of museums and historical societies and lectures widely in the United States and around the world on the Civil War and Reconstruction, race relations, problems in public history, and American historical memory, among other topics. He is a member of the American Society of Historians and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Yale alumna Mary Miller Ph.D. ’81, currently director of the Getty Research Institute, had a nearly 40-year career at Yale that included serving as the first woman dean of Yale College from 2008 to 2014. She was a Sterling Professor of the History of Art and served as chair of the history of art department, director of both undergraduate and graduate studies, and head of Saybrook College from 1999 to 2008. She was also senior director of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale. An expert on the art of the ancient New World, Miller is especially known for her scholarship on ancient Mexican and Maya art. Her books include the textbook “Art in Mesoamerica,” now in its sixth edition, and “The Murals of Bonampak” and “The Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art” (with Linda Schele). She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Indra Nooyi ’80 M.P.P.M., served as the CEO of PepsiCo from 2006 to 2018 and was a senior trustee at Yale from 2002 to 2014. She has also served on the President’s Council on International Activities. In 2019 she was awarded an honorary degree from Yale. In presenting the honor, President Peter Salovey noted Nooyi’s impact as an outspoken and accomplished woman in business. Nooyi has frequently appeared on lists of the world’s most influential women. Under her leadership, PepsiCo launched the Performance with Purpose initiative, incorporating the impact on health, society, and the environment into the company’s strategy. She serves on the board of directors at Amazon.

The American Philosophical Society has approximately 1,000 members from all different disciplines. Of these, 840 live or work in the United States and about 160 of them are international members from more than two dozen countries. Other new members include short story writer, essayist, and translator Lydia Davis, U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. Among the society’s earliest members were George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton; other members have included Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, James Audubon, and Albert Einstein. Since 1900, more than 260 members have received the Nobel Prize.

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