Benjamin Irvin is the New Editor of the *Journal of American History*

irvinThe Organization of American Historians has announced that Benjamin Irvin, currently of the University of Arizona, will be the new editor of the Journal of American HistoryAs many of you know, the Journal is the most important scholarly journal of American history in the world.

Congrats, Ben!

Here is the formal announcement:

The OAH is pleased to announce that Benjamin H. Irvin, associate professor at the University of Arizona, has been named the new Executive Editor of the Journal of American History and associate professor in the department of history at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the author of Clothed in Robes of Sovereignty: The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors (2011). Irvin has worked on the editorial boards or staffs of Common-Place: The Journal of Early American Life, History Compass, and the Journal of American History. He is also a Distinguished Lecturer with the Organization of American Historians.

Irvin will begin his term as Executive Editor of the Journal of American History in August 2017.

Tal Howard Leaves Gordon for Endowed Chair at Valparaiso University

Tal and Agnes Howard
My old employer, Valparaiso University, keeps attracting quality historians.  Last month I learned that my friend and prolific historian Tal Howard is leaving Gordon College to become the Phyllis and Richard Dusenberg Chair of Christian Ethics and Professor of History at Valpo.  For the last decade or so Tal ran the honors program and the Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon.  His wife Agnes, a fine historian in her own right, will also be joining the faculty of Christ College, Valparaiso University’s honors college. Congrats Tal and Agnes!
Here is an article from the Gordon College student newspaper:
Tal Howard’s office in the Center for Faith and Inquiry feels similar to a sanctuary. The walls are lined with bookshelves filled with historical and influential academic volumes on ethics, Christianity and philosophy. The hours in this room spent deep in thought and in meaningful conversations seem to have saturated the walls and floor with an air of the profound.
The office will only remain Howard’s for one more year. After spending more than a decade at Gordon, he and his family plan to head west to Indiana, where he will start a new chapter of his career as a professor at Valparaiso University.
The ties that the Howards have made in Massachusetts made leaving a “difficult decision,” Howard said.
“I don’t expect the heartache to fully heal,” he said, explaining that leaving is an “excitement with a lining of sadness.”
Agnes, Howard’s wife and a history professor at Gordon, agreed. “While there are things to look forward to, it is sad to leave dear friends and community at Gordon,” she said.
Nevertheless, Howard said he’s excited for the future, adding that his new position will give him ample time for writing and research for the three books he has under contract.
At Valparaiso, Howard will serve as Professor of History and the Humanities and holder of the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics. Howard’s wife, Agnes, will be appointed as lecturer at Christ College, the four-year honors college at Valparaiso. Howard came to Gordon 15 years ago as a professor in the history department. He held that position for four years before the college received a $2 million grant, with which he developed the Center for Faith and Inquiry (CFI), which houses the offices of the Jerusalem and Athens Forum (JAF) honors program, the Faith Seeking Understanding lecture series and the Respectful Conversations scholarship and symposia.
Since then, Howard has been directing JAF’s first 11 cohorts, doing “a lot” of writing and researching, directing the CFI and continuing to serve as a member of the history department faculty.
Agnes has taught various first- year courses, most recently The Great Conversation and in the history department. She has also been involved with Gordon-in-Orvieto. “I have enormously enjoyed getting to know students here, both in my own classes and in the JAF groups,” she said.
Howard wears a lot of hats, but colleagues and students say they are consistently struck by his humility and ability to facilitate deep thinking.
Ryan Groff, Administrative Director of the CFI, first met Howard during his interview for JAF while a student.
“It wasn’t a grill session, but more a conversation on my interests and what I appreciated at the time, which was absolutely a result of Tal’s personality,” he said.
While in JAF, Groff said he was struck by Howard’s ability to ask a question and have conversations, not just explain an opinion. “His personality sets that tone for the program,” Groff said. “The table that Howard sets is inviting.” Matthew Reese ’15, JAF alumnus and current CFI Apprentice, said Howard “is one of the most reputable researchers at Gordon. … But he’s humble. For someone who doesn’t know who he is, he can be an unassuming person to be around, but he’s quite the academic giant and extraordinarily brilliant, but at the same time without losing any of his personality.”
Reese said Howard taught him how scholarly research functions.
“As someone who is thinking of going into academia, it’s really helpful to learn to be academic,” Reese said.
Howard said one lesson he’s learned during his time at Gordon was the value of interdisciplinary conversation and the importance of people in shaping those conversations. As he leaves, he wants to be remembered for his work with JAF, where he hopes students will continue to have a deep understanding of tradition, recognize that faith has many intellectual resources, and ask deeper questions about themselves and their society, while letting a love and joy of learning flourish.
Howard is looking forward to finishing up his last year with JAF, the 12th cohort (“A nice, Biblical number,” he said) and a term packed with influential lecturers for the Faith Seeking Understanding series.
In his email to JAF alumni announcing his departure, Howard wrote that “establishing JAF and working with its many wonderful students has been one of the greatest pleasures and honors of my life; through it … I have received an education.”

The Danforth Center on Religion and Politics Lands Another Big Fish

Mark Valeri

Mark Valeri is headed to Washington University.  Here is the press release:

The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis is delighted to announce the appointment of Mark Valeri as the Reverend Priscilla Wood Neaves Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics.
Valeri is widely regarded as one of the most eminent scholars of religion in British North America, including the political upheavals of the revolutionary era and its aftermath. He focuses his research and teaching especially on the interplay between Protestantism and the rise of capitalism; Reformation theology and the political history of Calvinism; Puritanism; enlightenment moral philosophy; and the formation of a secular society.
Marie Griffith, Director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics and John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, remarked, “Mark Valeri is, by every measure, a socially engaged and intellectually profound scholar of great accomplishment, sustained productivity, and enduring creativity. The Danforth Center on Religion and Politics and more widely, the St. Louis community, will greatly benefit from his scholarly gifts and leadership.”
Leigh Eric Schmidt, Acting Director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics for 2014-2015 and Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor, commented, “Mark Valeri’s commitment to both undergraduate and graduate education is a remarkable opportunity for the students of Washington University. I know he will enrich the academic experience of any and all students who join us at the Danforth Center.”
Valeri comes to Washington University in time for the fall 2014 semester from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, where he served as the Ernest Trice Thompson Professor of Church History since 1996. His prior appointment was in the Department of Religious Studies at Lewis and Clark College, where he won a faculty achievement award for outstanding teaching.
Valeri is the author of many articles and essays, and his most recent book, Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America, (Princeton University Press, 2010), received the 2011 Philip Schaff Prize from the American Society of Church History. It was also shortlisted for the 2011 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Historical Study of Religion and selected as one of Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010.  The book analyzes social and moral transformations in the American economy from the early 1600s, when Puritans argued that personal profit should be subordinate to customary restrictions on trade, to the mid-eighteenth century, when Christians increasingly celebrated commerce as an unqualified good.
His other publications include Law and Providence in Joseph Bellamy’s New England: The Origins of the New Divinity in Revolutionary America (Oxford University Press, 1994), which won the Mackemie Prize from the Presbyterian Historical Society; The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 17: Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733(Yale University Press, 1999); Practicing Protestants: Histories of Christian Life in America, 1630-1965 (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), co-edited with Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp and Leigh E. Schmidt; and the co-edited Global Neighbors: Christian Faith and Moral Obligation in Today’s Economy (Eerdmans, 2008).
Valeri has received several fellowships, including an Andrew W. Mellon fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, an American Council of Learned Societies grant, and a Lilly Endowment faculty fellowship.
Valeri earned the Ph.D. from Princeton University, the M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and his B.A., summa cum laude, from Whitworth College.
The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis was established in 2010. It serves as an open venue for fostering rigorous scholarship and informing broad academic and public communities about the intersections of religion and U.S. politics. It is named for former U.S. senator from Missouri John C. Danforth, an ordained Episcopal priest who served three terms in the U.S. Senate and also was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Wilfred McClay Named Blankenship Chair at University of Oklahoma

Bill McClay

I just found out about this today.  Intellectual historian and Merle Curti Award winner Bill McClay is on his way to the University of Oklahoma to assume the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty.  Here is the press release:

University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced today that award-winning educator and author Wilfred M. McClay has been named the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, a position previously occupied by the late J. Rufus Fears. Boren made the announcement at the June meeting of the OU Board of Regents. 

“We are very fortunate that Wilfred McClay, one of the nation’s most distinguished scholars, has agreed to come to OU to accept the Blankenship Chair,” said OU President David L. Boren.  “His selection follows a national search for an appropriate person to carry on the legacy of the late Professor Rufus Fears.

The position of G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty is devoted to teaching students about the evolution of the concept of liberty in Western civilization. The chair also serves as director of the Center for the History of Liberty. 

Currently, McClay serves as the SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities and Professor of History at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is also co-director of the Center for Reflective Citizenship at UTC. In addition, he serves as a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, and Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum. 

McClay was appointed in 2002 to the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he served until January. His book, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, won the 1995 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history. Among his other books are The Student’s Guide to U.S. History, Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Policy in America, Figures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past and the forthcoming Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Public Life in Modern America. 

A recipient of many teaching awards and honors, he has also been the recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Academy of Education. 

McClay received his bachelor of arts degree cum laude from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., in 1974, and his doctoral degree in history from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1987. He has taught at Tulane University, Pepperdine University, Georgetown University and the University of Dallas and as a Senior Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Rome.

His research interests focus on the intellectual and cultural history of the United States, with particular attention to the social and political thought of the 19th and 20th centuries; the history of American religious thought and institutions; and the theory and practice of biographical writing.

Alan Jacobs to Baylor

Baylor University continues to recruit some of the nation’s top Christian scholars. The latest scholar to make his way to Waco is former Wheaton College English professor and prolific writer Alan Jacobs.

Jacobs announced his new appointment on Twitter:

Folks: I have accepted an offer to become a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the Honors College at Baylor U. Excited! Nervous! 

Congrats to Baylor and Alan Jacobs.