In our effort to highlight a profile of a College of Arts and Sciences’ department in each “CAS E-Newsletter,” we have come now to one of the College’s oldest and most distinguished departments, one whose faculty members have had an enormous impact on the University of Vermont and its students, and on the State. It is only fitting that I begin with a bit of history drawn from an article written by Emeritus Professor of Classics, Z. Philip Ambrose. This article, “The UVM Curriculum I---From Traditional to Modern,” was included in The University of Vermont: The First Two-Hundred Years, a work edited by the late Robert V. Daniels, Emeritus Professor of History. Professor Daniels himself well represents the remarkable contributions of the members of the Department. A Vermonter, he was a world-renowned scholar of Russian history, a polyglot, a member of the state legislature, and a dedicated and much-loved member of the UVM community.
It was as the result of the division and specialization of disciplines by which founding American universities, like the University of Vermont, grew, that History emerged as an area of study. By 1889, the predecessor of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Arts, had split the core area of philosophy into “Political Science and History” and “Moral and Intellectual Philosophy.” Soon after that there was a thorough-going revision of the curriculum of the “Course in Liberal Arts.” As Professor Ambrose’s research reveals, the curriculum “no longer reflected the culmination of study of philosophy, the heart and soul of the Marsh curriculum.” Now there were seven divisions: “(1) social and political science, (2) moral and intellectual philosophy, (3) languages, (4) mathematics, (5) history, (6) natural science, and (7) rhetoric and English literature” (Ambrose, p. 102). Departmental status followed in due course, but it is to this period in UVM’s rich history that the Department can trace its roots. There’s certainly a lot of history between then and 2010 worth exploring, but for now I recommend that you turn your attention to the description of the most recent activities of the faculty of the Department of History that follows by Department Chair, Professor Steven Zdatny. You will then be able to assess for yourself how far we’ve come.
With many good wishes from UVM for a restful and joyous Thanksgiving,
Eleanor M. Miller, Dean
Ambrose, Z. Philip. 1991. "The UVM Curriculum I--From Traditional to Modern." In Robert V. Daniels,
senior editor, The University of Vermont: The First Two-Hundred Years (pp. 89-106).
Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.