Cowell Commencement 2013 Keynote Speaker: Patty Limerick

December 18, 2012

Patty Limerick banner.jpg
Photo by Honey Lindburg

Cowell College is honored to have award-winning author and cofounder of the Center of the American West Patty Limerick as the Cowell Commencement 2013 speaker.

Patty Limerick is the Faculty Director and Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West at University of Colorado at Boulder, where she is also a Professor of History and Environmental Studies. Limerick has dedicated her career to bridging the gap between academics and the general public and to demonstrating the benefits of applying historical perspective to contemporary dilemmas and conflicts. Limerick is also known as an energetic, funny, and engaging public speaker, sought after by a wide range of Western constituencies that include private industry groups, state and federal agencies, and grassroots organizations. Her second book, The Legacy of Conquest (1987), played a central part in the revitalization of the field of Western American history (2012 is the 25th anniversary of its publication). Limerick is also a prolific essayist, and her most widely read article is “Dancing with Professors: The Trouble with Academic Prose,” first published in The New York Times Book Review.

Limerick has received a number of awards and honors recognizing the impact of her scholarship and her commitment to teaching, including the MacArthur Fellowship and the Hazel Barnes Prize, CU’s highest award for teaching and research. She is currently the vice president for the Teaching Division of the American Historical Association, and she will be the President of the Organization of American Historians in 2014. She has served twice as a Pulitzer Nonfiction jurist, as well as serving as chair of the Pulitzer Jury in History for 2011.

In 1986 Patty Limerick and Professor Charles Wilkinson founded the Center of the American West, and since 1995 it has been her primary point of affiliation. During her tenure, the Center has published a number of books, including the influential Atlas of the New West (1997), and a series of lively, balanced, and to-the-point reports on compelling Western issues, including What Every Westerner Should Know About Energy (2003), Cleaning Up Abandoned Hardrock Mines in the West (2006), What Every Westerner Should Know About Energy Efficiency and Conservation (2007), and, most recently, A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water (2012), an illustrated history of the Denver Water Board. The Center’s film, The Lover’s Guide to the West, debuted on Rocky Mountain PBS in April 2010. Limerick and Center staff are currently working on several projects, including a book about the role of the Department of Interior in the West, based on the “Inside Interior” series of interviews hosted by the Center between 2004 and 2006. Under her leadership, the Center of the American West serves as a forum committed to the civil, respectful, problem-solving exploration of important, often contentious, public issues. In an era of political polarization and contention, the Center strives to bring out “the better angels of our nature” by appealing to our common loyalties and hopes as Westerners.