Civil War Era Studies to be enhanced thanks to NEH Challenge Grant

Gettysburg College’s Civil War Era Studies (CWES) program will soon be enhanced thanks in large part to a challenge grant of $500,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

This grant will help to establish an endowed chair in CWES.  Funds that have been freed up from the creation of the endowment will support a new-tenure track position in war and memory studies.

“The NEH Challenge Grant holds the promise of a transformed CWES minor that is well aligned with the college’s curricular emphasis on internationalism, interdisciplinary study, and inclusiveness,” Provost Chris Zappe said. “The new position in war and memory studies will add both international and interdisciplinary dimensions to our current Civil War Era Studies minor and allow us to offer new courses that transcend nineteenth-century American history.”

Added Vice Provost Jack Ryan, “When CWES began, the minor featured cross-curricular appeal. Economics; philosophy; women, gender, and sexuality studies; film studies, and English all contributed courses to the minor. With the NEH challenge grant, we have the opportunity to reconnect with other departments and programs.”

“The endowed professorship would not only be important to the college by advancing and enhancing the great deal of significant Civil War study already taking place on campus, but it would also enable new ideas about war and memory to germinate on campus,” echoed NEH chairman William D. Adams in a congratulatory letter to President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77.

The College’s inextricable links to Civil War history and proximity to Gettysburg National Military Park have played a big role in flourishing programs focused on the American Civil War and the Civil War Era, including the Civil War Institute (CWI) and CWES. 

Allen GuelzoThe College created CWES in 1998 with support from the Henry Luce Foundation, and it has become a popular minor. The current director of CWES, Dr. Allen C. Guelzo, will hold the newly endowed professorship. Guelzo is a renowned Civil War and Lincoln scholar, and last year he was awarded an unprecedented third Lincoln Prize for his book, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion. In addition to scholarly journals, his articles and essays have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and more.  

This permanent endowment will secure the future of CWES while expanding the program to increase the level of involvement by faculty in other departments and attract more students. A new faculty position in war and memory studies will allow the College to offer new courses that transcend nineteenth-century American history. The new appointment will begin as soon as sufficient financial resources for salary and benefits are available.

The NEH grant, which must be matched on a three-to-one ratio by the College, will result in a $2 million endowment. This means that Gettysburg, through fundraising efforts, must secure $1,500,000 in order to receive the full grant. Fundraising for the Endowed Professorship has already begun, through Gettysburg Great: The Campaign for Our College. The College has already secured $900,000 toward the match through the generosity of two donors.

This challenge grant is the College’s third from NEH. Earlier NEH Challenge Grants helped establish the Robert C. Fluhrer Professorship in Civil War Studies – currently held by CWI Director Peter Carmichael – and the Edwin T. Johnson and Cynthia Shearer Johnson Distinguished Teaching Chair in the Humanities – currently held by history Prof. Barbara Sommer.

Of the 16 challenge grants awarded in 2014, just five are to colleges and universities and Gettysburg’s award is the singular grant to a selective liberal arts college.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965. Its mission is to serve and strengthen our nation by supporting high quality projects and programs in the humanities and making the humanities available to all Americans. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. By offering matching funds, challenge grants help local, state, and national institutions secure their humanities resources and activities for the long term.


Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Fri, 20 Feb 2015

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