Cornelia Coles Fairbanks Professor of History
Richard F. Spall, the Cornelia Coles Fairbanks Professor of History, joined the faculty at Ohio Wesleyan University in 1984 and served until his retirement in 2021. Dr. Spall attended Hanover College and earned his B.A. in history at Wittenberg in 1977. He completed an M.A. in British and modern European history at the University of Illinois in 1979 and received his Ph.D. from that same institution in 1985, concentrating on the history of Britain and the Empire/Commonwealth since 1688, the history of England to 1688, the history of modern Europe, and historiography.
During his long tenure at OWU, Dr. Spall taught a wide and diverse array of popular and highly-enrolled courses, including Introduction to Modern European History, Historical Inquiry, The Reformation Era, Economic History, The Making of Britain, British History Since 1688, and an impressive number of topical courses in British history, such as Legal and Constitutional History, Victorianism, The Radical Tradition, and The Crisis of Tudor-Stuart England. Dr. Spall’s dedication to pedagogical excellence was recognized and celebrated in his being awarded both of OWU’s prestigious teaching awards, the Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for Encouragement of Teachers (1992) and the Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award (2009).
Dr. Spall’s research interests focused on Victorian Britain and the Empire (especially British India), with an emphasis on political, intellectual, social, and economic history. During his academic career he published a variety of studies on such topics as the court of Queen Victoria, free trade, radicalism, and liberalism.
From 1994 until 2019, Dr. Spall served as the book review editor of The Historian, one of the largest scholarly history journals in the world. As editor, he oversaw the publication of more than 300 book reviews annually and provided numerous students from varied and diverse interests and backgrounds with generous paid scholarships and internships as well as professional training and experience. Additionally, he donated well in excess of a million dollars’ worth of historical monographs to the Ohio Wesleyan Beeghly Library.
Dr. Spall served as chair of the History Department, served over the decades on a wide array of faculty committees, and served in various capacities in a number of professional historical organizations.
A passionate, compassionate, and inspirational teacher and mentor to generations of students, an esteemed colleague and indefatigable advocate for the entire faculty, and an indispensable fount of institutional memory, Dr. Spall will be missed by colleagues and students at OWU.