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Noted Historian of National Parks to Speak at Stetson

Stetson University will host esteemed Woodrow Wilson Fellow Dwight Pitcaithley, Ph.D., next week to present “The National Park Service after 100 Years: A Historian’s Reflections on Mission, Challenges, and Opportunities.”

The free event is open to the public on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m. in the Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center, 529 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand.

portrait of Dwight Pitcaithley

Dwight Pitcaithley

Pitcaithley’s presentation will highlight the challenges and changes in the National Park Service over more than a century, including the park’s role as an educational institution and federal policies that affect its work. During his visit, Pitcaithley will also talk with students about current controversies surrounding monuments and memorials in public places. Pitcaithley has published numerous articles and book chapters pertaining to public memory, the role of historic sites in public education and the public interpretation of the causes of the Civil War.

“We are so pleased to have the opportunity to welcome such a respected public history scholar and practitioner on our campus.,” said Emily Mieras, associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Stetson University. “His lecture will be both timely and relevant as the National Park Service celebrated its centennial last year, as the NPS faces possible funding cuts, and Americans continue to debate how to represent history in public space. Given Dr. Pitcaithley’s expertise, the talk should have wide appeal, for the many people who love the national parks as well as those fascinated by how history plays a role in public spaces.”

Until mid-2005, Pitcaithley was chief historian with the National Park Service, responsible for the management and preservation of the country’s national resources. He was an advocate for high quality interpretive programs based on current historical scholarship. Pitcaithley served as president of the National Council for Public History in 1998, and on the editorial boards of The Public Historian and The Journal of American History.

The Dean’s Office in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stetson University is sponsoring this public lecture and Stetson University Department of History is hosting Pitcaithley’s visit to Stetson, with support from the Departments of Economics, Education, Environmental Science and Studies, and Political Science, as well as the Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, Career and Professional Development, and the Gillespie Museum. Pitcaithley will speak at the Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport on Monday, Oct. 9, before coming to DeLand.

The Woodrow Wilson Fellow program is organized by the Council for Independent Colleges.

-Heather Hunter