Graham A. Peck, Ph.D., Wepner Distinguished Professor of Lincoln Studies

Graham A. Peck, Ph.D.Graham A. Peck, Ph.D. was raised in Oakland, California, a first-generation American born to parents who immigrated from England in the early 1960s. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1991 from California State University, Hayward, and received his master’s and doctorate in American History from Northwestern University.

He taught at Saint Xavier University in Chicago for 17 years before joining the History Department at UIS in 2019 as the Wepner Distinguished Professor of Lincoln Studies. Graham has taught classes on United States History, Illinois History and Historical Methods, and hopes to create new courses that focus on Abraham Lincoln.

Graham’s published scholarship—which includes multiple articles and the book “Making an Antislavery Nation: Lincoln, Douglas and the Battle Over Freedom”— focuses on antebellum American political history, and particularly on Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, and the origins of the Civil War. His scholarship goes beyond the written word, as evidenced by the feature-length film he wrote, directed and produced on Douglas for use at the Douglas Tomb State Historic Site in Chicago. He also created an eight-episode podcast on Mother Catherine McAuley, the 19th century nun who founded The Sisters of Mercy.

The Center for Lincoln Studies at UIS drew him to the university, and will enable him to contribute to an initiative that provides students, faculty, scholars and the public a platform to better understand Lincoln’s life and his continual impact on our world. He lives in Springfield—a place with “echoes of Lincoln and American history everywhere present”—with his wife and two daughters.


Wepner Distinguished Professorship

The Wepner Distinguished Professorship was established at UIS as the result of a $1.2 million unrestricted estate gift from a Springfield couple, Wilbur and Margaret Wepner, longtime supporters of UIS. The funds are being used for scholarships and the Wepner position. As a member of the Committee for Higher Education in Central Illinois, Wilbur Wepner helped found this university (then called Sangamon State University) in 1969.