Robert Griffith (1940-2011)

Historian Robert GriffithRobert Griffith, of American University, died on January 25, 2011. A gifted administrator and scholar, he served the American Historical Association as co-moderator of the department chairs’ listserv and as chair of the Local Arrangements Committee for the 2004 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The Organization of American Historians awarded him the Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions as treasurer from 2008–10.

Griffith was chair of the department of history at American University from 2004–10 and was provost from 1995–97. He was committed to increasing the presence of women and minorities on the faculty and staff and increasing the use of information technology on campus. He was also a staunch supporter of public history.

Griffith’s first book, The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate (1970) received the Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner Prize. In 2007, Houghton-Mifflin published a third edition of his co-edited volume Major Problems in American History since 1945. Griffith was dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland at College Park from 1989–95 and chair of the department of history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst from 1983–87. Born in Atlanta and raised in southern Indiana, he earned his B.A. at DePauw University in 1962 and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1967.

Griffith was a supportive mentor to his students and his colleagues whose warm smile will be deeply missed.

The American University history department has established a Robert Griffith Scholarship Fund in his honor. Details about the scholarship fund and memories of Griffith’s life are posted at online here and here. A memorial service will be held at the university’s Kay Spiritual Life Center on Saturday, February 12, 2011.

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