LAWRENCE – Last September, the University of Kansas welcomed David Roediger, the Kendrick C. Babcock Professor of History at the University of Illinois and an internationally recognized historian, as keynote speaker for the 60th anniversary of the Department of American Studies. Next academic year, KU will welcome Roediger to a more prominent role as its first Foundation Distinguished Professor in American Studies and History.
“Foundation Professor hires are integral to the success of Bold Aspirations, our strategic plan,” said Jeffrey S. Vitter, provost and executive vice chancellor. “Our Foundation Professor recruitment efforts target truly exceptional researchers recognized as leaders in their field. Professor Roediger is an exemplary initial hire, a scholar who has shaped and often reshaped the field of labor history and racial history over the course of his career. This is a strong precedent to attract future scholars to KU.”
KU’s Foundation Professor initiative is a unique partnership between the university and the state of Kansas to attract such eminent faculty members to support one of the university’s four strategic initiative themes. Roediger is the first of 12 eminent scholars who will join KU. In his role as Foundation Distinguished Professor, Roediger will play a leadership role in advancing KU’s strategic initiative theme, Building Communities, Expanding Opportunities.
Roediger’s scholarship and teaching, which focus on race, ethnicity, labor, and the 19th and 20th centuries, have made him a well-known figure in the humanities and social sciences. In particular, his groundbreaking work on the study of race has been widely credited with transforming the field of study. His book “The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class” was awarded the 1992 Merle Curti Prize for the Best Social History Book from the Organization of American Historians.
“I’ve been coming to KU as a visitor for many years and am happy to be joining two of its strongest departments,” Roediger said. “I am excited to be a part of KU’s commitment to build new interdisciplinary partnerships on campus. American Studies and History are programs with strengths that closely align with my research passions, and I am anxious to be in Lawrence and begin working with new students and colleagues.”
“Professor Roediger’s commitment to multidisciplinary research and teaching make him an ideal addition to KU and to our outstanding departments of American Studies and History,” said Danny Anderson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “His record of leadership extends beyond being highly regarded in his field to his work with undergraduate and graduate students and building multidisciplinary scholarly and civic engagement projects.”
Roediger earned a bachelor’s from Northern Illinois University and a doctorate in history at Northwestern University in 1979. He previously served on the faculty at Northwestern University, the University of Missouri and the University of Minnesota.
Roediger will begin his work at KU during the 2014-15 academic year. He will have a joint appointment in American Studies and History. In addition to the added recognition gained by hiring KU’s first Foundation Distinguished Professor, each department anticipates critical new projects will develop, drawing top graduate students and scholars to KU.