Press Releases | Liberal Arts

Gertrude Himmelfarb to Receive Philip Merrill Award

Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to liberal arts education
August 17, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC—Gertrude Himmelfarb, professor emerita of history at the City University of New York Graduate Center, will receive the third Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education. This national prize uniquely honors 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 is sponsored by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

“Dr. Himmelfarb’s abiding concern with Western political thought and her unparalleled ability to examine contemporary cultural problems through an informed historical lens make her a most fitting recipient of this prestigious award,” said ACTA president Anne D. Neal. “Her career has personified the very best in teaching and scholarship and we are honored to bestow upon her the Merrill prize.”

The award is named in honor of the late Philip Merrill, who was a distinguished public servant, publisher, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Mr. Merrill served as a trustee of Cornell University, the Aspen Institute, the University of Maryland Foundation, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, as well as a founding member of the National Council of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. Members of the Merrill family will present the award to Dr. Himmelfarb at a gala dinner on October 5 in Washington.

The Merrill Award offers a tribute to those dedicated to the transmission of the great ideas and central values of Western civilization. It is presented to inspire others and provide public acknowledgment of the value of this endeavor. Nominations were solicited in The Chronicle of Higher Education and from prominent education leaders.

The selection committee consisted of distinguished educational and civic leaders:

Martin C. Anderson, Keith and Jan Hurlbut Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University;
A. Lee Fritschler, professor of public policy at George Mason University and former president of Dickinson College;
Hans M. Mark, John J. McKetta Centennial Energy Chair in Engineering and former chancellor of the University of Texas at Austin;
Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic;
Abigail Thernstrom, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and 2007 winner of the Bradley Prize;
James Q. Wilson, professor emeritus at UCLA and 2003 winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and
Gordon S. Wood, Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History at Brown University and 1993 winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

The past recipients of the Merrill Award are Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University (2005) and Harvey C. Mansfield, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University (2006).

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a non-profit, non-partisan, educational organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability in higher education. ACTA has a national network of college and university trustees and alumni and has issued numerous reports including The Vanishing Shakespeare, Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action, The Hollow Core, and Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century.


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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