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ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

News: Press Releases


Gary W. Gallagher Chosen as 2013 Recipient of Merrill Award

Military historian selected for outstanding contributions to liberal arts education
July 1, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni announced today the selection of Gary W. Gallagher, noted civil war historian and professor at the University of Virginia, as the recipient of the 2013 Merrill Award for the Advancement of Liberal Arts Education. The Merrill Award honors individuals who promote liberal arts education, core curricula, and the teaching of Western civilization and American history.

Gallagher is the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at UVA. A nationally recognized expert on the Civil War and beloved undergraduate teacher, Gallagher graduated from Adams State College of Colorado and earned his MA and Ph.D in history from The University of Texas-Austin. Before teaching at UVA, Dr. Gallagher was a professor of history at Penn State University.  

Active in historic preservation, Dr. Gallagher has worked with the Civil War Trust and was founder and first president of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites. He also has a large following outside the academy through his acclaimed courses on the Civil War widely available through The Teaching Company.

“At a time when military history is disappearing from many history departments, Dr. Gallagher shows that Americans cannot understand themselves without coming to terms with the Civil War,” said ACTA president Anne Neal. “His lively classes exemplify the kind of engaging instruction that America’s students need.”

The author of several books including The Confederate War and Lee and His Generals in War and Memory, Dr. Gallagher is currently working on a study of the battlefield monuments at Gettysburg, and the ways in which Union and emancipation figured into 19th-century dedicatory speeches and inscriptions.

“As Americans mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Dr. Gallagher’s selection seems particularly timely,” said Neal.

The Merrill Award, is named in honor of Philip Merrill, a distinguished public servant, publisher, businessman, and philanthropist who served as a trustee of Cornell University, the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, the Aspen Institute, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Throughout his career, Merrill was a passionate proponent of academic excellence and an articulate spokesman for the importance of historical literacy in a free society. Merrill was also a charter member of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni's national council.

A distinguished committee of educational and civic leaders from around the country advised the selection.

Previous winners of the award include Thomas M. Rollins, founder of The Teaching Company (2012), acclaimed historian and author David McCullough (2011), and Benno Schmidt (2010), chairman of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York.

The award will be presented during a gala dinner on Nov. 8 at the Anderson House of The Society of Cincinnati in Washington, DC, at 6:30 pm.