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February 14, 2017

Villanova opens new Center for History in the Public Interest

Universities History
Villanova University Courtesy/for PhillyVoice

The Villanova University sign at Lancaster and Ithan avenues.

Villanova University has officially opened the doors to its immersive new history center that will seek to connect crucial moments in our past with issues of public interest in the present.

Funded with a $10 million commitment from alumnus Albert Lepage, the Center for History in the Public Interest serves as an academic resource and event hub to benefit researchers, policymakers, students and the public. Its primary goal is to impart contemporary lessons from the past and influence the way history is taught in the future.

“Understanding the history and the diversity of the human experience is incredibly powerful. It helps fuel self-discovery, transformation and growth, which are central to the Villanova academic experience,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, Villanova University president. “I am incredibly grateful to Albert for recognizing this, and for his generous gift that will provide our students with exceptional opportunities to better understand the past in order to improve our future.”

Led by public historian Jason Steinhauer, the new center will also provide programs for local high schools, other higher education administrators and teachers. Dr. Paul Steege, who joined the Villanova History Department in 2000 and specializes in 20th-century German history, will serve as the center's inaugural faculty director.

“My hope is that the good study of history will foster a greater understanding of today relative to yesterday,” said Lepage, who earned a history degree from Villanova in 1969. “History often repeats itself, and the Center will bring historical perspective to current events.”

Other anticipated programs include summer institutes for teachers, briefings for government officials and conferences for scholars, with an emphasis on using digital tools and new media.