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March 17, 2004
Bicentennial Campaign professorship supporting young talent
By Janice Roché

The College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio University announces the appointment of Kevin Mattson, professor of history, to the Patricia Connor Study Professorship in Contemporary History.

Patricia Connor Study, who earned her bachelor's in mathematics from Ohio University in 1948, established the professorship with a $1 million commitment to the Bicentennial Campaign. As a result of Connor Study's gift, Mattson's students - graduate and undergraduate - will be better prepared for the discipline of history.

Patricia Connor Study

Named professorships, a top priority for Ohio University during the campaign, recognize and reward outstanding faculty and help to ensure top-notch classroom instruction and research. The endowment that supports a professorship provides a stipend for the faculty member receiving the recognition as well as discretionary funds to support the faculty and his/her students.

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Leslie Flemming says, "this professorship will support Mattson's research, provide travel for him and his students and increase the visibility of the history department and the college."

Funds provided by the professorship will enable students to become more deeply involved in learning, scholarship and sustained original research that goes well beyond what the classroom allows, particularly in the quarter system. Students will be able to travel to archives for research and the loose associations they now have can be formalized through assistantships and other opportunities for pay.

Much as students make decisions on fitness for a discipline through practical experiences, history students will gain a broader perspective on what original research requires and what classroom teaching really is prior to following this academic path. Mattson says that, "students should be sure they are engaging in a discipline that they are suited for, especially in a tight job market, prior to graduation."

Mattson "finds joy in doing scholarship" and brings a highly interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research. He was trained to address contemporary social questions through history, always keeping "an eye out for its implications for current debate."

His focus fits well with the mission of the Contemporary History Institute, of which he is a member. Through the institute's seminar setting, graduate students from many disciplines gather to discuss current issues. Mattson aims to prepare students to be comfortable in settings of broader interaction - to see how their work crosses over into politics, philosophy and social policy.

Of Mattson's teaching, Paul Milazzo, assistant professor of history, says, "... Kevin represents the rarest of breeds in academe: An intellectual without pretension, one who values clarity of thought and honest debate ... I am inspired by his unremitting insistence that a university must promote the highest of standards, and his abject unwillingness to 'dumb down' his expectations for students and fellow historians alike."

Students should be "asked the broader questions before leaving the institution," Mattson says. He adds that people from all walks of life should be able to interpret current events and make broad associations. Historians should make history relevant to the public. He says, for example, "What does understanding foreign policy during the Cold War tell us about foreign policy as it stands now? This type of teaching and learning is crucial in a state institution that is accountable to the public for showing the relevance of the work you are doing."

Mattson earned a B.A. from Eugene Lang College, New School for Social Research, New York, N.Y., and a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Rochester. He served as associate director and then research director at the Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics of Democracy at Rutgers University. Prior to joining the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio University in 2001, Mattson taught American History at Mount Saint Vincent University, Nova Scotia, The Clemente Course in the Humanities at Bard College, Rutgers University and the University of Rochester.

His publications include a forthcoming book this fall entitled "When America Was Great: The Fighting Faith of Liberalism in Post-War America," Routledge Press; "Engaging Youth: Combating the Apathy of Young Americans Toward Politics," Century Foundation Press; "Intellectuals in Action: The Origins of the New Left and Radical Liberalism, 1945-1970," Pennsylvania State University Press; "Creating a Democratic Public: The Struggle for Urban Participatory Democracy During the Progressive Era," Pennsylvania State University Press, and "An Introduction to Mary Parker Follett's "The New State," with prefaces by Benjamin Barber and Jane Mansbridge, Pennsylvania State University Press. He is also co-editor of "Democracy's Moment: Reforming the American Political System for the 21st Century," Rowman and Littlefield and "Steal This University!," Routledge Press. His essays have appeared in both popular and academic periodicals.

The Patricia Connor Study Professorship provides funds for salary supplement, research and professional activity for a specialist in the contemporary history of the United States. Ohio University provided start-up support for the Contemporary History Institute and this professorship attests to the continued financial commitment for the program and the department of history.

"It's generous of Mrs. Connor Study," says Chair of the Department of History Steve Miner. "She is a model of what we'd all most like to be; bright, intellectual and eager to learn." He adds that she is "just as eager to support others that are coming up."

Flemming says that the College of Arts and Sciences had this professorship in mind during the search for a highly qualified candidate. Many private colleges have had endowments all along. Having its own endowed professorships helps Ohio University to attract and retain exceptional faculty. "It's a plus for us as an institution and College," she says.

Patricia Connor Study grew up in Athens, Ohio, and her gift is intended to recognize both her professional accomplishments and her family's ties to Ohio University and the community.

Her father, Roger Connor, was an executive with the Royal McBee Company and a prominent member of the business, social and civic communities in Athens. Roger was lay leader for the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd and he and his wife, Edna, served as volunteers for the Red Cross.

Connor Study graduated from the Athens City Schools in 1944 after having spent a year at the Columbus School for Girls. At Ohio University, Connor Study majored in mathematics with minors in English and economics. Her memberships include the freshman honorary society, Phoenix (later Mortar Board Society), and Pi Beta Phi, where she served as president in 1947-48.

Following graduation, Connor Study was employed as a market analyst by Foote, Cone, and Belding in Chicago. This was a first step in a successful career selling high-end real estate with a focus on historically significant properties in Chicago. She annually publishes the "Study Study of Residential Real Estate," a standard reference tool for the residential real estate market in Chicago.

Connor Study is a current member of the Ohio University Foundation Board and is an active volunteer serving in leadership positions on the boards of the Latin School of Chicago, the North Dearborn Association, and other nonprofit organizations. She is the widow of Dr. Robert Smith Study, a prominent Chicago psychoanalyst.

The Bicentennial Campaign - which has raised more than $192 million toward its goal of raising $200 million to celebrate the university's bicentennial in 2004 - will provide money for scholarships, endowed professorships, technological enhancements, innovative programs and selected capital improvements.

Janice Roché is an administrative coordinator in the College of Arts and Sciences

 

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