2016 Newsletter

Message from the Chair
Professor Joel Blecher Joins the Faculty
Linda Levy Peck
Faculty Kudos
Current Students
Alumni Updates/Class Notes
Donor Recognition
Support the Department
Stay Connected

Message from the Chair

Welcome! I am very happy to share with you highlights of the past academic year and to give you a glimpse of some of the plans we have for the future. We were fortunate to have hired two new faculty. Joel Blecher joined us this fall as a specialist in the history of early and medieval Islam. Arie Dubnov will arrive in January 2017 as the inaugural Max Ticktin Professor of Israel Studies. On a more wistful note, in spring we celebrated the career of Professor Emerita Linda Levy Peck, who retired after 19 years.
Several of our current faculty garnered notable honors this year: Marcy Norton was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. The department also earned four university-wide teaching prizes, two each for Denver Brunsman and Christopher Klemek.
This year, we are launching a new initiative in public history that will enable students to explore the many uses of history in the “real world,” including in museums, at historical sites and in the political arena. We are also continuing popular programs such as The Price of Freedom: Normandy 1944, which features a trip to France for undergraduates who visit the sites of the D-Day invasion.
As you can see, the department has ambitious plans. Unfortunately, funding reductions have impeded our efforts to extend critical support for graduate student summer research, student conference travel, and talks by important visiting scholars. Please consider donating to the department this year, if you can. Your support has a real impact on our research and on the educational activities we are able to offer our students.
Most of all, however, we would like to stay in touch with you. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. Thank you for your ongoing interest in the History Department.

Photo: Professor and History Department Chair Katrin Schultheiss

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Professor Joel Blecher Joins the Faculty

Joel Belcher

The department is delighted to welcome Joel Blecher as our new specialist in early and medieval Islamic history.  Professor Blecher is a social and intellectual historian whose Arabic and Urdu language skills have taken him to archives in Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and India. His first book project, In the Shade of the Hadith: Islam and the Politics of Interpretation across a Millennium, investigates the understudied practice of hadith commentary within and across classical Andalusia, medieval Egypt and modern India. Beyond this manuscript, he has already published essays in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Oriens, the Oxford Bibliographies in Islamic Studies and several edited volumes. He is currently working on his second book, Profit and Prophecy: Islam and the Spice Trade from Venice to India. The study will examine how Muslim scholars and merchants in the Mamluk period (13th-15th centuries) mixed religion and business along trade and pilgrimage routes that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Sea and beyond. 
Prior to his arrival in Foggy Bottom, Professor Blecher taught at Oberlin College and Washington and Lee University (W&L). He has also been invited to speak about the Islamic world on National Public Radio, college radio and various podcasts. In addition to offering a wide range of courses in early and medieval Islamic history, Professor Blecher plans to continue a digital humanities project that he began with his W&L students, who collected, analyzed and visualized biographical data about the earliest transmitters of Islamic law.  
Read the GW Hatchet's profile on Professor Blecher here.
Photo: Professor Joel Blecher

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Linda Levy Peck

This April, the department honored the distinguished career of Columbian Professor Linda Levy Peck on the occasion of her retirement.  A full day of events featured scholarly presentations by her former doctoral students as well as roundtable discussions of her critical contributions to the field of early modern studies—at GW, in the broader D.C. community, through the seminars she led at the Folger Shakespeare Library and beyond.  As Professor Denver Brunsman observed, Professor Peck’s influence has not stopped at the shores of England. Instead, it “stretches to topics and fields as diverse as the coming of the American Revolution and the European intellectual influences on Thomas Hobbes—the national and the transnational. Linda has set an impressive and timeless example for all of us to follow.”

The celebration concluded with a reception featuring tributes from undergraduate students and colleagues, past and present. Professor Peck arrived at GW in 1996 and for the next two decades taught popular classes on the history of Tudor and Stuart England. She is the author of the award-winning Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth Century England (Cambridge University Press, 2005), The Mental World of the Jacobean Court (Cambridge University Press, 1991) and numerous other books and articles. Though she is no longer teaching, Professor Peck remains hard at work. She is currently in London completing the manuscript for her forthcoming book, Networks of Fortune: Money, Marriage, and Murder in Early Modern England, under contract with Cambridge University Press.
Photo: Professor Linda Levy Peck 


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Faculty Kudos

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Current Students

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Alumni Updates/Class Notes

Farah al-Nakib, BA ’01, published Kuwait Transformed: Oil and Urban Life with Stanford University Press in April.  Farah is assistant professor of history and director of the Center for Gulf Studies at the American University of Kuwait.  She was recently profiled in Bazaar magazine, where she credits her experience writing her senior history thesis with setting her on the  course to becoming a professional historian.

Nancy Baker, MA ’93, became an associate professor of history in 2013 and won the Sam Houston State University Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015. She has been appointed interim associate vice provost at Sam Houston State University for 2016-2017.
Rachel Barker, BA ’12, a policy analyst and outreach manager at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, recently co-authored The Making of Global Cities, a survey of cities strengthening their position in the global economy.
Kata Bartoloni, PhD ’10, had her book, For Fear of an Elected King, profiled in GW Today. Dr. Bartoloni delivered the 5th Annual George Washington Lecture at the George Washington University Museum/Textile Museum. Her lecture, "The Road to 'Mr. President': George Washington and the Title Controversy of 1789," was also covered in GW Today.
Richard Boles, PhD ’13, has accepted a tenure-track assistant professorship at Oklahoma State University.  Richard is currently in the final year of his three-year position at City College of New York. He has also signed a book contract with the McNeil Center series of the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Christopher Bright, MA ’03, PhD ’06, completed a four-year term as a GW trustee in 2014. He remains a subcommittee staff director for the Committee on Armed Services in the U.S. House of Representatives, producing reports on pressing national security topics.
Michael Jabara Carley, BA ’67, received Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada three-year grant for work on Soviet-western relations; published, Une guerre sourde: l'émergence de l'Union soviétique et les puissances occidentales Presses de l'U. de Montréal 2016
Lewis Chapin, BA ’47, is 97, having broken his attendance at GW with serving in World War II. He is happily married with three daughters and two grandchildren. He retired as a division manager from what is now Verizon after 38 years of service.


Albert Cramer, BA ’12, has been working for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission since 2012, charged with building the Eisenhower National Memorial a block off the National Mall. He states, “It's been an honor to help memorialize this great general, our 34th president, and champion of peace.”

Craig Daigle, PhD ’08, author of The Limits of Detente: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1969-1973 (Yale University Press, 2012), is associate professor of history at City College of New York. 

Bert Deixler, BA ’73, celebrated the 40th anniversary of his graduation from Columbia Law School in May. He continues to practice law at the Los Angeles law firm Kendall, Brill & Kelly LLP.

Nick DelDotto, BA ’05, married Katharine McCown in May 2015 and moved to Kennett Square, Penn. He currently teaches social studies at Unionville High School, annually named one of the best high schools in both Pennsylvania and the United States by US News and World Report.

Daniel (Dan) Demers, BA ’70, published Old Wine and Food Stories, a social history culled from the Library of Congress' digital newspaper archives. The book is comprised of 284 pages and 90 historical vignettes. Available through Amazon.com.

Gregory F. Domber, PhD ’08, author of Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the End of the Cold War (UNC Press, 2014), is associate professor of history at the University of North Florida.

Christina Firpo, BA ’01, published The Uprooted: Race, Children, and Imperialism in French Indochina, 1890-1980 with the University of Hawai'i Press in April.  Christina is currently assistant professor of history at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Read more about her transformative experience as a GW history major here.

Congratulations to Dr. Kelsey Flynn, MA ’11, PhD ’16, student of Linda Levy Peck, who successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, "Information Management and the Early English Atlantic Empire."

Barbara Fox, MA ’07, for the last eight years, has been an adjunct instructor at Pima Community College, where she teaches several courses, including an elective on the Holocaust, and actually created one in Tudor/Stuart England. She is also a survivor of fourth stage breast cancer!

Ben Friedman, MA ’94, since graduating with an MA in history from GW, has been working in government contracting.  He is the director of operations and SEWP PM for SMS Data Products Group.  His is married and has two sons, Alex (15) and Jacob (17).

Malgorzata Gnoinska, PhD ’10, recently received tenure at Troy University and is an associate professor of history. Her dissertation on Poland and Asia during the Cold War (more than 800 pages) should develop into two books.

Sallie Greenwood, BA ’65, is wrapping up research and writing a history of women who pioneered in mountaineering from her base in Boulder, Colo. Research has taken her to the National Library of Scotland, Royal Geographical Society, Alpine Club and American Alpine Club.

Rachel Groves, BA ’04, is currently serving as president of the Tennessee Library Association.

Felix Harcourt, MA ’09, PhD ’14, having worked as a lecturer in United States history at Georgia State from 2015-16, is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University and is working on a project that looks at prejudice and politics in the 1920s, focusing on the Ku Klux Klan's D.C. lobbyist. 

Andrew Hartman, PhD ’06, was promoted to full professor of history at Illinois State University in 2016. In 2015-2018 he is serving as Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians (OAH). His 2015 book, A War for the Soul of America (University of Chicago Press), has now been reviewed 48 times, including in The Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard, LA Review of Books, and Times Higher Education. He was named editorial advisor at the University of Chicago Press. This year he published two online essays: “Beyond the Whack a Mole Left,” in Jacobin (June 6); and “Taking Liberties: The Glories and Hazards of Self-Exposure in the Digital Age,” in Bookforum (December/January), 20-21. He also participated in the keynote debate of the Progressive/Conservative Conference in Grand Rapids, MI.

Candice Shy Hooper, MA ’08, had her first book, Lincoln's Generals Wives, published in June by Kent State University Press.

Lily House-Peters, BA ’05, received her PhD from the School of Geography and Development at University of Arizona in August 2016. She has accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Geography at California State University, Long Beach.

Shawn Hoyer, BA ’99, continues his career in corporate and investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, leading the Mid-Atlantic growth technology efforts.  Mr. Hoyer earned his MBA in 2013 from The University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Nate Jones, MA ’07, is the director of the Freedom of Information Act Project for the National Security Archive. He has just published a book entitled Able Archer 83: The Secret History of the NATO Exercise That Almost Triggered Nuclear War.

Tate Jones, MA ’96, is executive director, Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History, president of Northern Rockies Heritage Center, both at Fort Missoula, Montana and author of Images of America: Fort Missoula (2013).

Jonathan Kahan, BA ’70, is presently a partner at Hogan Lovells US LLP. He is also an adjunct professor at the GW Law School teaching medical technology law and regulation.

Artemy M. Kalinovsky, BA ’05, is author of A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Harvard University Press, 2011) and an assistant professor of East European Studies at the University of Amsterdam.

Shaadi Khoury, PhD ’16, has accepted a faculty position in history and social studies at King's Academy in Madaba, Jordan. King's Academy is the first New England-style boarding school in the Middle East.

Sora Kim, BA ’05, got engaged to Collin Meyers, ESIA ’04, in May 2016. They met at GW when they were in college together.

Joseph Kirschbaum, PhD ’08, is a director in the Defense Capabilities and Management team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. He overseas reviews of homeland defense, cyber operations, intelligence, weapons of mass destruction and other defense emerging threats.

Benjamin Klubes, BA ’87, is a co-managing partner of 160+ lawyer law firm, BuckleySandler, located in D.C., N.Y., L.A., Chicago and London focusing on financial services and enforcement/white collar work.

Michael Todd Landis, PhD ’11, published an online essay, "Dinesh D'Souza Claims in a New Film that the Democratic Party was Pro-Slavery. Here's the Sad Truth," on the History News Network.  Michael is an assistant professor of history at Tarleton State University.

Dan LeClair, BA ’05, is serving as director of development for the international nonprofit 1% for the Planet.  He is responsible for guiding philanthropic strategy and growing revenue by garnering regional, national and global support.

Chelsea Lenhart, BA ’14, recently appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi Show blog to discuss the controversy over the children's book A Birthday Cake for George Washington. She authored the entry on Hercules, “Washington's enslaved chef and purported birthday cake baker,” in the Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington.

Mary Lou Lesser, BA ’67, is a retired librarian. Her favorite history professors were Howard Sacher, Lois Schwerer and Peter Hill. She states, “Actually the entire department was outstanding. Please keep us informed of any lectures we can attend. Thank you!”

Jason Levin, BA ’10, left his position as communications director for Los Angeles City Council member Bob Blumenfield to become a senior account executive at Cerrell Associates. He got engaged to Jessica Weiss in June 2016.

Cynthia Little, BA ’67, has been the historian for the Philadelphia History Museum for the last 12 years.

Maureen Logue, BA ’79, MS ’00, has just retired after teaching as a special educator for 26 years.

Carol MacHorton (Erlebach), MA ’84, retired from Federal Service in 2013, and was awarded a Career Commendation Medal. Since then, she has worked as a consultant for a federal project pertinent to the review and release of historical documents to the public.

Edward Marolda, PhD ’90, is currently conducting oral history interviews with retired admirals for the U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, Md. He is also teaching a course on China and the United States at Georgetown University and completing work on the history of the U.S. Navy.

Jerrilyn Matthews (Shepard), BA ’66, is now retired and busy volunteering for community nonprofits. After GW, she went on to graduate school and received a MAT degree from Oakland University. She worked for various educational, government and nonprofit agencies, mainly as a social worker.

Christel McDonald, BA ’86, thanks to having been elected into the Phi Beta Kappa Society upon graduation, focused in her private life on networking with other Phi Betas and young people who strive for academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and success in life.

Blaine McPhillips, BA ’06, is living both happily and healthy in Los Angeles, Calif. His job is representing the County of Los Angeles as a lawyer in juvenile dependency cases. He states, “Cheers to all of my GW family!”

David Miller, BA ’69, was a broadcast journalist at WRVA AM and WRIC TV 1971-1991 in Richmond, Va., and is now at Miller Insurance Services in Louisville, Ky.

Richard Moss, PhD ’09, will have his first book, Nixon's Back Channel to Moscow: Confidential Diplomacy and Détente, published in January 2017 by The University Press of Kentucky. 

Philip Muehlenbeck, PhD ’07, has published Betting on the Africans: John F. Kennedy's Courting of African Nationalist Leaders (Oxford University Press, 2014); Czechoslovakia in Africa, 1945-1968 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) [also under contract for a 2017 release in Czech by Nakladatelstvi Rybka Publishers]. His edited volume Gender, Sexuality, and the Cold War: A Global Perspective, is forthcoming with Vanderbilt University Press in 2017); and his coedited volume, Warsaw Pact Intervention in the Third World: Aid and Influence in the Cold War is forthcoming with I.B. Tauris in 2018. He has also contracted to serve as the editor of a new Vanderbilt University Press series entitled, The Cold War: Global Perspectives.

Rusty O’Kane, BA ’06, is a commercial litigation attorney down in Dallas, Texas.

George Petrov, BA ’71, shares that his long and winding road has not involved history, save for a modest collection of late 19th through mid-20th century maps. The study of aspiring empires, failed, transient and imaginary states has helped him navigate the corporate world.

Mark Plotkin, BA ’69, is a contributor to the BBC on American politics, and he writes a column for TheHill.com and The Georgetowner. He states, “2017 will hopefully bring full citizenship to the residents of the D.C. with statehood for D.C. Call your representatives and senators. Do it now.”

Lucy Pola (Gahm), BA ’81, is happily married to a GW alumnus Al Pola, BA ’81, and living in Skaneateles, N.Y. They have 3 children—Jeff, Ella and Erik—and are enjoying the transition to empty nesting.  She works for Cornell University in human resources and Al teaches high school criminal justice.

Karen Reap (Scott), BA ’64, after a 40-year career on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon and as a consultant, is enjoying retirement in a beach community in North Carolina. Her GW history studies helped hone her research and writing skills necessary for a successful career.

Clifford Rees, BA ’74, is a semi-retired public health attorney currently serving as the practice director for the Western Region of the Network for Public Health Law and is also an active community volunteer.

Jason Roberts, PhD ’07, graduated from the history program in 2007 with a PhD in 19th and 20th century American political history. Since August 2010, he has been teaching full-time at Quincy College in Quincy, Mass. He just received tenure at Quincy College as of this academic year.

Victoria Robinson, BA ’11, MA ’13, moved to Miami in 2015, where she now works as a fundraiser for Zoo Miami Foundation. She also serves on the committee of the GW South Florida Alumni Network.

Steve Rodd, BA ’70, works as an elementary school counselor for the Kingman, Arizona Unified School District. He was married this past June 4 in Kingman.  His daughter is currently a senior communications major at American University.

Kate Rosenberg, BA ’08, recently assumed duties as weapons officer on board the guided missile destroyer USS DONALD COOK, home ported in Rota, Spain.

Christopher Roy, BA ’06, is currently working as a physician at a Harvard-affiliated hospital in the Boston area.  He is also studying to receive his Master of Public Health at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

Philip Runfola, BA ’64, after serving in the U.S. Navy and a career in the federal government, has visited and lived in 98 countries. He has been retired for over 20 years and is now traveling for pleasure and enjoying life in Florida.

Sara Sanders (Richman), BA ’07, after working for the Department of Defense, is now an affiliate relations manager at a national nonprofit outside D.C. In her spare time, she volunteers at the National Archives and loves to travel. Her and her husband, Brandon, have an adorable baby girl, Keira.

Lorenz Schrenk, BA ’54, after completing five books on railroad history, has been writing a series of children's stories. Three books are in the process of publication and will be available shortly.

Christine Sisto, BA ’12, published a four-part article "Brooklyn's Sacred Cathedral: Brooklyn's Effect on the Mythology of the Dodgers," in Baseball Magazine

Barry Spiegel, BA ’65, is living in Bethesda, Md. He is the chief human resources officer for Cornerstone Montgomery, Inc., a nonprofit providing a variety of services to the mentally ill in Montgomery County.

Charles Szlenker, BA ’73, has recently retired from being an attorney and is looking forward to enjoying his retirement.

Jennifer Thibodeau, BA ’12, utilizes her analytic skills as a senior legislative analyst for the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics at the Pentagon and teaches yoga in her spare time!

Gregory M. Tomlin, MA ’10, MS ’12, PhD ’13, author of Murrow's Cold War: Public Diplomacy for the Kennedy Administration (University of Nebraska Press, 2016) is assistant professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Bonnie Wernik Levine, BA ’73, married her GW sweetheart Larry Levine, BA ’73. They have two children, one is married, & they are expecting their first grandchild in December. They live in Swampscott, Mass., just north of Boston.

Daniel Whittier, BA ’11, received a master’s in Latin American studies from Georgetown University in 2015 and is currently working on a consulting project dealing with the South American telecommunications industry.

Michael Zagaris, BA ’67, was recently featured in the 2016 summer edition of GW Magazine. This year Reel Art Press is publishing his coffee table book, Total Excess, replete with photos with outrageous stories from ock & roll, punk, and counter culture.

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Donor Recognition 

The Department of History would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the department from July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016.
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund
Elizabeth Beveridge*
Emma K. Bilski, BA ’15
Charles Scott Bozik, BA ’13
Thomas E. Brinkman, Jr., BA ’79
Malcolm C. Clark, BA ’53, MA ’59
Neil DeHaan, Jr., BA ’70
Bert Howard Deixler, BA ’73
Ronald J. Denham, BA ’67
Joseph T. Enright, BA ’70
Michael Thaddeus Epstein, BA ’05
Christina Elizabeth Firpo, BA ’00
Juliet Folger*
Lee M. Folger*
Michele Frucht-Levy, BA ’70
Richard A. Gantz, MA ’71
Ilana R. Goldfus, BA ’10
Mary F. Goldwag, BA ’66, MA ’80
Warren Gould, BA ’51, MA ’55
Richard Anthony Grasso, BA ’09
Courtney E. Griffin, BA ’08
Katherine C. Hardwick, BA ’11
Richard Perry Harland, MPhil ’78
Alora K. Hasson, BA ’16
Charles J. Herber+
Joan Herber*
Deirdre Holleman, BA ’73
H. John Keimig**
Susan M. Keimig**
Joseph W. Kirschbaum, PhD ’08
Benjamin B. Klubes, BA ’87
Anne C. Larrick, BA ’53
Cynthia J. Little, BA ’67
Charles T. Long, PhD ’05
Wendy S. McClure*
Christel G. McDonald, BA ’86
Suzanne M. Noel, MPhil ’83
Linda Levy Peck+
Lynn R. Perkins*
Robin K. Pokorski, BA ’14
Ben Profeta*
Mary B. Pszonak**
Robert P. Pszonak**
Mary M. Raiser*
Karen J. Reap, BA ’64
Edward M. Rickford, BA ’16
Victoria M. Robinson, BA ’11, MA ’13
David S. Rosen, BA ’51
Lois Green Schwoerer+
Barbara G. Selzer, BA ’75
Daniel I. Sherman, BA ’01
Darina B. Sherwood*
John D. Sherwood, MPhil ’93, PhD ’95
Patrick D. Smith, BA ’15
Jessica A. Smoluchowski, BA ’06
JC Stiassni, BA ’14
Holly Melinda Turton, BA ’72
Ben Vinson, III+
Marion B. Von Heisermann, BA ’65
Daniel Jameson Waters, BA ’12
Michael W. Weeks+
Rosa D. Wiener, BA ’56
James C. Wigren, MA ’85
Kasi R. Wilkerson, BA ’13
Katherine S. Willard, BS ’16
Huiyu Zhai, BA ’16
* Friend
** Parent
+ Faculty/Staff
~ Student

Support the Department

Gifts to the Department of History allow us to provide support for faculty and student research and travel, graduate student fellowships, and academic enrichment activities including guest speakers, visiting faculty, and symposia. Each gift, no matter how large or small, makes a positive impact on our educational mission and furthers our standing as one of the nation's preeminent liberal arts colleges at one of the world's preeminent universities. 
Your gift to the Department of History will be considered a part of Making History: The Campaign for GW, a comprehensive, university wide philanthropic effort to raise funds in support of GW’s vision and priorities.  To learn more, please visit http://campaign.gwu.edu/.
You can make your gift to the Department in a number of ways:
  • Securely online at this link.   
  • By mailing your check, made out to The George Washington University and with the name of the department in the memo line, to:

The George Washington University
2033 K Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC  20052

  • By phone by calling the GW Annual Fund at 1-800-789-2611.

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