West Virginia University emeritus professor Ronald L. Lewis will discuss the growth and evolution of WVU since World War II for the West Virginia Humanities Council Little Lecture at 2 p.m. Sunday. The event will take place at the Humanities Council headquarters in the MacFarland-Hubbard House, located at 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E.
Lewis, West Virginia Historian Laureate, is the author of “Aspiring to Greatness: West Virginia University since World War II,” published in September 2013 by WVU Press. The book is the only modern history of WVU and focuses on the post-war historical developments that elevated the school from a regional institution to one of national prominence. In his talk, Professor Lewis will examine the impact of returning WWII and Korean War veterans and baby boomers on student enrollment from 1945 to 1975. From the mid-70s to the early 1990s this growth gave way to a trend of unprecedented gender, racial, and ethnic diversity reflecting the increase of students from nontraditional backgrounds. In the 1990s WVU, like other public universities, was called upon to generate more of its own revenues with the increasing commercialization of higher education. The University’s strategic responses to these pressures transformed it into the large complex institution of today.
Professor Lewis taught history at WVU from 1985 to his retirement in 2008. He chaired the History Department from 1989 to 1995. In addition to “Aspiring to Greatness” he has published numerous articles, essays and book chapters. He also has co-edited 14 books including “Transnational West Virginia: Ethnic Communities and Economic Change, 1840-1940” and is the author of “Transforming the Appalachian Countryside: Railroads, Deforestation,” “Social Change in West Virginia, 1880-1920”; and “Welsh Americans: A History of Assimilation in the Coalfields.”
Admission to the lecture is $10 and includes a reception after the program. Taylor Books will furnish copies of “Aspiring to Greatness” for purchase and Professor Lewis will sign them following the program. Those interested in attending should call the Humanities Council office at 304-346-8500 before noon on Friday.