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Dr. John Recchiuti selected as Saffell Endowed Chair in Humanities

March 17, 2009

Dr. John RecchiutiDr. John Recchiuti, professor of history and director of the American Studies program at Mount Union College, has been selected as the John E. and Helen Saffell Endowed Chair in Humanities.

“Dr. Recchiuti is indeed the ideal selection as the first recipient of this prestigious honor,” said Dr. Patricia Draves, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “His expertise and dedication to research in U. S. history mirrors Dr. Saffell’s own academic interests. Dr. Recchiuti combines intellectual history with political history and the history of social movement in his work.”

"I am delighted and honored and look forward to holding the chair for many years to come,” said Dr. Recchiuti upon his appointment. “I wish to express deepest thanks to Dr. John Saffell for his generosity to the College in establishing the chair, and to my colleagues on two committees, to Dean Draves, to President Giese and to the Mount Union Board of Trustees for this prestigious appointment." 

A member of the Mount Union faculty since 1998, Recchiuti earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and English from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, a master of arts degree in comparative British and American labor history from the Center for the Study of Social History at Warwick University in Coventry, England and a doctoral degree in history from Columbia University.

He is the author of Civic Engagement: Social Science and Progressive-Era Reform in New York City, published by University of Pennsylvania Press in 2007, which examines how, a century ago in New York City, a group of social science-trained men and women built a vibrant network of scholarship and activism in the city, helped frame the high stakes issues of their day and took action. This semester, Recchiuti is serving as Visiting Professor of History at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Recchiuti plans on utilizing the funds supplied through the Chair in his continued research in U.S. History, Dr. Saffell's own field of study as an historian at Mount Union from 1948 to 1982. 

Dr. John SaffellThe Saffell Endowed Chair in Humanities was established by Dr. John Saffell, who is currently living in Copeland Oaks.  John ’37 and Helen (Weaver ’44) Saffell were devoted faculty members of Mount Union as well as Mount Union graduates.  They spent their lifetimes at the College imparting perhaps the best gift a person can get – classroom learning that can be transformed into life skills.  Their styles were different but their passion and sincerity were unmistakable. They were experts in their respective fields and what they shared was a deep love of teaching, and their students knew it.

Halen SaffellJohn Saffell anchored the Department of History at Mount Union from 1948 until his retirement in 1982. He was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the College in 1996. His wife, Helen was a vital part of the Department of English from 1946 to 1950 and again from 1955 until her retirement in 1985. Generations of students have benefited from the lessons taught by the Saffells, and now John, who at the age of 92 still engages former students in intellectual discussions at Copeland Oaks.  Helen passed away in 2001, but together they established a gift that will continue to give.

According to the Saffells, the chair will be awarded to a “disciplined scholar who by imaginative and creative teaching is revered for making historical and/or literary studies meaningful in the lives of students. It is preferred that, periodically, the holder be a specialist in state and local history.”

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