FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: May 4, 2001
Contact: Cheryl D. Peck
Prominent Lincoln, Civil War authority accepts UIS position
SPRINGFIELD - One of the nation's foremost authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War has accepted a faculty appointment in the History Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Phillip Shaw Paludan will occupy the university's first distinguished chair -- the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, according to William Bloemer, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Paludan's appointment, effective August 16, is subject to approval by the U of I Board of Trustees.
Paludan has won many awards for his scholarship on Lincoln and the Civil War, including the prestigious Lincoln Prize, awarded by the Lincoln and Soldiers Institute at Gettysburg College, for his 1994 book The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. He is currently professor of history and Distinguished Lecturer in Western Civilization at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, where he has been a faculty member since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1968.
UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen said that UIS' success in attracting someone of Paludan's stature is an indication of the new direction in which the university is moving. "The appointment of Dr. Paludan is a major victory for UIS and the first of many good things to come as we move toward our goal of becoming one of the leading small public liberal arts universities in the nation," he said.
Governor George H. Ryan expressed pleasure at the timeliness of the appointment. "The addition of Professor Paludan to the faculty at UIS comes at a perfect time," he said. "With work already under way on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, this is another step toward making Springfield the preeminent location for Lincoln studies."
The distinguished chair was established one year ago when Dr. Richard E. Vaden and his family donated $1.25 million for that purpose to honor their longtime friendship with then UIS Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn and her husband, Robert. Dr. Lynn retired as chancellor on March 30 of this year after serving nearly 10 years in that capacity. "I am very pleased that UIS was able to attract such a distinguished professor to this position, and I know the Vadens will be as pleased with the selection as I am," said Dr. Lynn.
Paludan, whose four books on the Civil War era have achieved much recognition, said that his focus at UIS will be on "Lincoln's world as much as on the man himself. Lincoln's thought seems ever relevant. When people ask me why we need another book on Lincoln I sometimes answer, 'Why do we need another performance of Hamlet?'"
He noted that the range of his work will bring different perspectives "to understanding and spreading understanding" of Lincoln and his age. His 1981 book, Victims, a True Story of the Civil War, focuses on the social history of the war years, as do chapters in "A People's Contest": The Union and Civil War (1988), on the constitutional thought of the period. A Covenant with Death: The Constitution, Law, and Equality in the Civil War Era (1975) is about the cultural history of the period. He is also the author of articles in the American Historical Review, Civil War History, and Reviews in American History, as well as numerous anthologies.
Lincoln biographer David Herbert Donald called The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln "the most comprehensive modern treatment of that crucial period in American history" and noted that it is "an indispensable book for any serious student of the American Civil War."
Mark E. Neely, Jr., author of The Last Best Hope of Earth: Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America, said of Paludan's The Presidency, "This book puts Abraham Lincoln back on the map of serious American historical inquiry. It raises and answers the enduring questions of the Lincoln presidency that have gone begging for a whole generation."
Paludan is also the recipient of several awards for teaching, including the Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award in 1988 and as a visiting professor at Rutgers University and at University College in Dublin, Ireland. At UIS, he envisions teaching a lecture course on the Civil War and Lincoln and a more advanced course on Lincoln and his world that would draw on the latest developments in the study of 19th-century history. Other courses will examine Lincoln from more specific angles, such as from the perspective of 19th century African-Americans.
Paludan will also seek ways to involve his historical studies with the broader central Illinois community, such as holding seminars to teach area school teachers about Lincoln.
While there is no direct connection between the Lincoln chair and the new Lincoln Presidential Library, Dr. Ringeisen said UIS will be looking for ways the two institutions can work together.
REPORTERS/EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS: Phillip Paludan can be reached at his office at the University of Kansas for interviews/comments. The number is 785/864-3569.