News Briefs, December 2006

Bruce Craig, December 2006

Bomar Confirmed as Park Service Director

The Senate has confirmed Mary Bomar as the new director of the National Park Service. Bomar replaces Fran Mainella, who announced her resignation in July 2005. Bomar was one of four Interior Department officials who were confirmed at the end of September, right before the Senate went into recess.

Bomar was born in England and became a U.S. citizen in 1977. She is a career employee with the Department of the Interior, having spent 17 years with the National Park Service. Bomar served as acting superintendent at Rocky Mountain National Park and as superintendent at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Since July 2005, she has been Northeast regional director.

Like several of her predecessors, Bomar brings to the position considerable knowledge and experience in managing historic sites, including several years as superintendent at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia—considered the "premier" historic site in the Park Service. We wish her all the best in this important position.

Higher Education Act Extended—Yet Again

Congress passed a third extension of the Higher Education Act of 1965 shortly before the fall election recess. The House bill (H.R. 6138), which was also agreed to by the Senate, extends the programs under the Higher Education Act until June 30, 2007.

The Higher Education Bill provides the authorization for programs—including Pell Grants and Perkins student loans—that collectively help millions of students to attend college. In addition to continuing certain programs, H.R. 6138 includes a few additional provisions. Institutions of higher education that serve the Hispanic community will not have to wait two years between grant applications. The bill also provides loan forgiveness to spouses or parents of those killed in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Several historical organizations, including the National Coalition for History, are closely monitoring developments as Congress begins to consider amendments to the Higher Education Act. Among the proposed provisions is the establishment of a special history grant program that would provide funds to institutions of higher education to encourage the teaching of history at colleges and universities.

—BC