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February 20, 2009
By Zanny Marsh
Philip Boardman, professor of English, has become the ninth University professor to be named the Fitzgerald Distinguished Professor in the Humanities. Boardman's term will run from 2009 to 2011.
"Phil was a natural choice for this professorship," said Heather Hardy, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. "For more than a decade his leadership of the Core Humanities program promoted interdisciplinary collaboration for undergraduate instruction and scholarly research."
Boardman served as director of the Core Humanities program from 1994-2008, a role that disqualified him for consideration until after he stepped down. He received the professorship in his first year of eligibility.
University undergraduates are required to complete a series of three courses under the auspices of Core Humanities.
"The Core Humanities program increases our understanding of human beings and the development of cultures," said Neal Ferguson, professor of history and the new Core Humanities director.
"Phil steered the program through significant academic transitions from Western civilization to Western traditions and, finally, to the inclusive Core Humanities program that encompasses the study of languages, literature, history of ideas and culture and analytical thinking.
"Phil worked diligently and effectively to show the value of a Core Humanities program to our academic experience," Ferguson said. "Through the program, Phil found ways to deliver undergraduate education and create graduate research opportunities. He is always searching for ways to make the program relevant for students and scholars."
Boardman was Core Humanities director when the University received a National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant for $691,000 to create an endowment to fund two Core Humanities professorships.
Following a successful development campaign - including an $800,000 gift from Meta Fitzgerald - Boardman secured a $2.8 million endowment in 1998, and which grew to more than $3 million.
It was an impressive achievement for a liberal arts program. Large grants are commonly associated with research projects.
In 2004 Boardman's monumental work on King Arthur was published by Oxford University Press. The following year he received the College of Liberal Arts Dean's Award for Research.
Boardman received the 2003 "Nevada Professor of the Year," by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
Fitzgerald professors receive a stipend, deliver a public lecture each semester, teach in the Core Humanities program, and develop two upper-division capstone courses.