Press Releases | General Education

New-York Historical Society President Louise Mirrer to Receive 2014 Merrill Award

NYC Celebration to Mark 10th Anniversary of the Merrill Prize
June 11, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC— The American Council of Trustees and Alumni announced today the selection of Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, as the recipient of the 2014 Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education. The Merrill Award uniquely honors individuals who promote liberal arts education, core curricula, and the teaching of Western civilization and American history.

“New Yorkers and the nation owe Louise Mirrer a great debt for the work she’s doing to preserve our national memory,” said Anne Neal, ACTA president. “Study after study shows how urgently Americans need to understand the story of our country and its institutions, and Louise’s dedication to bringing that history to life is truly inspiring.”

Dr. Mirrer became president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society in June 2004. Before that, she was the CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs where she led an effort to strengthen American history requirements.

The New-York Historical Society, now in its 210th year, has flourished under Dr. Mirrer’s leadership. In addition to being the rich repository of national treasures, the Society is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier cultural and educational resources.

“Louise is distinguished among scholars and teachers for her visionary insistence on the centrality of United States history,” said Michael Poliakoff, ACTA’s vice president of policy and lead author of ACTA’s annual review of core curriculum requirements. “Free institutions cannot survive without informed citizens, and Louise Mirrer has demonstrated how cultural institutions and colleges must reassert their role in preparing students for the challenges of citizenship and community.” 

In recent years, Dr. Mirrer has been honored with the Woman of Distinction Medal, League of Women Voters, 2007; Dean’s Medal, CUNY Honors College, 2005; Education and Student Advocacy Award, Hostos Community College, 2005; President’s Medal, CUNY Graduate Center, 2004; Leadership Award, Asian-American Research Institution, 2003; New York Post’s “50 Most Influential Women in New York,” 2003; Citation of Honor, Queens Borough President’s Office, 2001; Women Making History Award, Queensborough Community College, 2001; and the YWCA “Women Achievers” Award, 2000. In 2007 she was made an Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge.

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 ACTA’s national council.

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

The previous winners of the award are:

  • 2013—Gary Gallagher, noted Civil War historian and professor of history at the University of Virginia
  • 2012—Thomas M. Rollins, founder of The Teaching Company
  • 2011—David McCullough, acclaimed historian and author
  • 2010—Benno Schmidt, past president of Yale University and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York
  • 2009—Robert “KC” Johnson, distinguished scholar of 20th century history and professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center
  • 2008—Donald Kagan, author of the magisterial four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War and Yale Professor Emeritus
  • 2007—Gertrude Himmelfarb, professor emerita of history at the CUNY Graduate Center
  • 2006—Harvey C. Mansfield, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University
  • 2005—Robert P. George, McCormick Chair in Jurisprudence and the founding director of the James Madison Program at Princeton University

The award will be presented during a gala dinner in New York City on Nov. 7, 2014. To find out more about the meeting and dinner, go to


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