Government Research Agency

Darren Smythe

NEH ODH Director

Personal Info (e.g., age, field of study, personality type, etc.)  45 years old; historian; organized, enthusiastic, serious
Responsibilities  Oversees all grant programs for the Office of Digital Humanities; manages ODH staff (3 grant officers); reports to Chairman of NEH; prepares all ODH materials for the National Humanities Council’s approval; communicating with congressional staff in helping them understand the function of ODH; attends academic conferences; meets or talks with prospective applicants.
Job Type (e.g., admin, professor, support staff)  administrator; government employee
Motivations  Wants to see digital work become more central to the work of the NEH generally; wants office to continue to thrive, so needs to fund projects that keep the office visible; wants to remain competitive with private funders; wants to increase his office’s share of the NEH budget.
Technical Savvy  Very high; serves as CIO for agency; both understands the technology and knows how to use it.
Goals and Needs  Long-term goal is to change the landscape of humanities scholarship; increasing opportunities for born-digital dissertations will increase number of scholars trained in innovative forms, thus increasing number of applicants for ODH grants and visibility of ODH work; needs project to be open, transparent, able to connect with existing systems and programs; can get excited about project if it fills a genuine gap in existing services without reinventing the wheel.
Interest in Project  Interested in open repository for a kind of scholarly work that isn’t elsewhere being archived; interested in short-term support to get this project up and running, but not long-term ownership and maintenance of archive; wants to see evidence that the project understands the landscape of digital archiving and that it has a real chance of success (evidenced by use of good data management standards and principles, involvement/endorsement of stakeholders in other digital archiving projects); committed to supporting projects that will remain non-commercial.
Brief Bio Statement  Darren Smythe is the founding director of the Office of Digital Humanities at the NEH, where he also serves as CIO for the agency. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Virginia, where he was an early graduate assistant at IATH. He began his career at the NEH as a program officer in the Education Division, where he was able to support some innovative projects in digital pedagogy. His interest in and talents for digital work brought him to the attention of the Chairman, who tasked him with setting up the Digital Humanities Initiative, the precursor to ODH. Darren’s primary focus within ODH is a cluster of large-scale international collaborations in data mining.
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