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The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWICS) was established by Act of Congress on October 24, 1968, to be a "living memorial expressing the ideals and concerns of Woodrow Wilson...symbolizing and strengthening the fruitful relations between the world of learning and the world of public affairs." The Center was placed within the Smithsonian Institution under the independent administration of a fifteen-member Board of Trustees appointed by the President, eight chosen from private life and seven from public positions. Chairmen of the Board of Trustees have included Hubert H. Humphrey, 1969-1972; William J. Baroody, Sr., 1972-1979; Max Kampelman, 1979-1982; and William J. Baroody, Jr., 1982- . Funding for the Center is derived from both private support and public appropriations.
The Wilson Center carries out its mission primarily through the selection of fellows and short-term guest scholars from the United States and around the world. Applicants submit a research proposal to be undertaken in one of the program areas, and fellows are chosen by impartial panels. The Center brings together the fellows and other prominent figures to discuss important national and international social and political subjects in forums and debates. WWICS also publishes The Wilson Quarterly and sponsors the DIALOGUE radio program.
The Center opened its fellowship and guest scholar programs on October 19, 1970. Benjamin H. Read was appointed Acting Director of WWICS in March 1969 and became Director in September 1969, a position which he retained until February 1973. Albert Meisel (Deputy Director of WWICS since 1970) served as Acting Director from February until September 1973. James H. Billington was Director from September 1973 through 1987. Prosser Gifford was acting Director, 1987, and was succeeded by Charles Blitzer, 1988- .
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