Published: April 13, 2020

This has been a proud year for the History Department as its students, staff, and faculty have all shown great care for one another in a time of crisis. Campus closed on March 16 due to COVID-19, and we have not seen one another face-to-face ever since. Nevertheless, the students and members of the History Department have—quite remarkably—remained close and shown a real commitment to offering one another support and cheer. In a time when just getting by is challenge enough, members and students of the History Department have thought of and worked for one another.

Prior to the pandemic, this was already a year of great import for the History Department. First and foremost, Tom Noel and Rebecca Hunt both announced their retirements. Tom and Rebecca built our Public History Program from the ground up. Under their leadership, the Public History Master’s Program drew students from across the nation and became the engine of our graduate program. The university’s administration and the Denver community know our Department in large part through the many exciting projects spearheaded by our Public History students. Indeed, many of the most prominent Public History sites in Colorado are staffed by Tom’s and Rebecca’s graduates. Over the course of their careers, Tom and Rebecca also played vaunted leadership roles within the Department and University and both taught thousands of undergraduate students. We are happy to inform students that both Tom and Rebecca will continue to teach Public History courses, on occasion. We are also happy to report that both Tom and Rebecca also plan to spend a significant amount of time travelling to locales far from Denver!

As Tom and Rebecca leave us, we have been thrilled to welcome new faculty into our fold. Professor Peter Kopp came to us in the Fall from his position at New Mexico State University, and Professor Rachel Gross arrived in the Spring after spending the Fall in Munich at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. Both Pete and Rachel will be taking over our Public History Program after Tom and Rebecca depart. The History Department also completed its search for a new scholar of Chinese History, and we are happy to announce that Xiaofei Gao will be joining our Department in the Fall. Professor Gao currently a Lecturer at Mount Holyoke College and an Associate at Harvard University’s Asia Center.

Our students and faculty won distinctions and, prior to the state-at-home orders, were active in presenting their research. First and foremost, Kaylyn Mercuri, a History master’s degree student, won the prestigious CLAS Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year Award. Greg Whitesides participated on a roundtable and delivered two papers at the International Policy Conference in Public History in Montreal, Canada. Dale Stahl was invited to present his work at the “Iraqi Studies: Past, Present, and Future” Conference at Columbia University. I was invited to workshop my next book’s first chapter at the Harvard Law School.

Much thanks to everyone in the Department—students, staff, and faculty—for their great work and inspiring fortitude this past year. I speak on behalf of the Department in wishing you and your loved ones security and good health.



Christopher Agee

Chair & Associate Professor