Press Releases | Liberal Arts

Donald Kagan to Receive Philip Merrill Award

Prize Recognizes Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education
July 14, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC—Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor of History and Classics at Yale University, will receive the fourth annual Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education. This national prize uniquely honors individuals 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.

“Don Kagan’s long history of scholarship and dedication to teaching the core values and principles of Western civilization makes him a natural choice for the Merrill Award,” said ACTA president Anne Neal. “I can’t think of a more deserving recipient.”

Professor Kagan will receive the Merrill Award at a gala dinner on October 17 in New York City.

The award—launched in 2005—is named in honor of the late Philip Merrill, 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 ACTA’s National Council.

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:

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; Harvey C. Mansfield, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University; and Gertrude Himmelfarb, professor emeritus of history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, national organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. Its network includes alumni and trustees from more than 600 colleges and universities across the country. Since its founding in 1995, ACTA has counseled boards and educated the public about such issues as historical literacy, core curricula, the free exchange of ideas, accreditation, and good governance in higher education.


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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