Press Releases | Liberal Arts

Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield to Receive Philip Merrill Award for Contributions to Liberal Arts

July 12, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC—Harvey C. Mansfield, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University, will receive the second Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education.

The award will be presented at a gala dinner on October 6 in Boston during the annual ATHENA Roundtable meeting of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

Professor Mansfield has been on the Harvard faculty for over 40 years. His books include Statesmanship and Party Government (1965), Machiavelli’s New Modes and Orders: A Study of the Discourses on Livy (1979), The Spirit of Liberalism (1979), America’s Constitutional Soul (1991), Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power (1993), Machiavelli’s Virtue (1996), and Manliness (2006). He has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as winning Harvard’s Joseph R. Levinson Award, the National Association of Scholars’ Sidney Hook Memorial Award, and a National Humanities Medal.

In the popular eye, Professor Mansfield has gained fame for giving his students two grades: the one he thinks they actually deserve, as well as an inflated “ironic” grade that is sent to the registrar’s office. He also—more recently—defended former Harvard president Lawrence Summers in the face of intense public criticism.

“Professor Mansfield is an acclaimed teacher and scholar,” ACTA president Anne D. Neal noted. “Over many years, and with great courage and persistence, he has fought grade inflation, challenged many of the worst campus orthodoxies, and exposed generations of students to the contributions of Western civilization and American government. ACTA is pleased to be presenting him this award.” 

The Merrill Award is the only one in the nation to honor those who have made an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of liberal arts education, core curricula, and the teaching of Western civilization and American history. It offers a tribute to those dedicated to the transmission of the great ideas and central values of Western civilization and is presented to inspire others and provide public acknowledgment of the value of their endeavor.

The Award is named in honor of Philip Merrill, a distinguished public servant, publisher, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who died tragically last month. Mr. Merrill served as a trustee of Cornell University, the University of Maryland Foundation, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. He was also a member of the first National Council of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which also included David Riesman, Lynne Cheney, Senator Joseph Lieberman and Martin Peretz. 

“ACTA is most pleased to be presenting this unique national prize in honor of Phil Merrill who tirelessly supported the importance of academic excellence and a common core of learning in a free society,” Neal said.

Nominations were solicited in The Chronicle of Higher Education and from prominent education leaders across the country. The selection committee consisted of distinguished educational and civic leaders: Martin Anderson, Keith and Jan Hurlbut Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; William Friday, President Emeritus, University of North Carolina; Elizabeth Genovese, Eleonore Raoul Professor of the Humanities, Emory University; Hans Mark, former Chancellor and Professor and John J. McKetta Centennial Energy Chair in Engineering, University of Texas at Austin; Martin Peretz, publisher, New Republic; James Q. Wilson, Medal of Freedom winner and former Harvard professor of government; and Gordon Wood, professor of history, Brown University.

ACTA is a national education nonprofit dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality and accountability in higher education. Its members include thousands of education leaders, alumni and trustees from colleges and universities across the country.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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