Annapolis, April 19—Governor Parris N. Glendening joined Washington College president John S. Toll today to announce the appointment of Edward "Ted" Ladd Widmer as director of the C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College in Chestertown, MD
A Harvard-educated historian, Widmer comes to the College from the White House, where he was Special Assistant to the President and director for speechwriting at the National Security Council. Widmer holds a Ph.D. in the history of American civilization; an A.M. in history; and an A.B., magna cum laude, all from Harvard University. He was an instructor in history and literature at Harvard and also taught at the Rhode Island School of Design.
About the Center, Widmer says, "The C. V. Starr Center will devote itself to the study of one of the most remarkable metamorphoses in history: how in the brief span of two centuries, a loose agglomeration of colonies at the periphery of the British empire evolved into the greatest power ever known."
Widmer envisions an active role in public life for the Center, saying, "Through a wide variety of public programs, the Center will encourage the broad study of the American experience and the countless ways we give daily new meaning to what Washington called 'the great experiment.' In keeping with the special history and character of Washington College, the Center will pay close attention to the nation's founding moment."
In addition to directing the C. V. Starr Center, Widmer will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in history as an associate professor at Washington College.
Widmer's published works reflect his broad knowledge of American cultural, intellectual, and political history. His book Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City (Oxford University Press: 1998) is a study of politics and culture in the Jacksonian period. Widmer examines the career of John O'Sullivan, author of "Manifest Destiny," and the influence of his magazine, the Democratic Review. He was a contributing editor for the magazine George and has written for The American Heritage History of the United States, The Whitman Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of New England Culture, The Encyclopedia Africana, Harvard Magazine, and Rhode Island History. He is also a consultant for a variety of other magazines and journals. His second book, on the troubled early history of African-American music, has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press.
The new director received the Dena Epstein Award for Excellence in Music History in 1998, a Charles Warren Center Fellowship in American History in 1997, a W. E. B. Du Bois Fellowship in Afro-American Studies in 1996, the Stephen Botein Prize for Teaching Excellence in 1994, a John Carter Brown Library Fellowship in 1994, and the Mark DeWolfe Howe Fellowship in the Study of Civil Liberties in 1991. From 1985 to 1993, Widmer held the Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities.
The headquarters of the C. V. Starr Center will be in the Custom House, a Colonial period building located on the Chester River in Chestertown, MD The Custom House was given to the College by the late Wilbur Ross Hubbard, a long-time member of Washington College's Board of Visitors and Governors. The building is being restored with assistance from grants from the Maryland Historic Trust and the C. V. Starr Foundation.