Lori Witt, associate professor of history at Central College, was installed as the Kenneth J. Weller Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts on Tuesday, Sept. 19. Named after Central’s 18th president who served from 1970-90, the three-year endowed professorship recognizes a distinguished faculty member and provides support for teaching.
Witt has taught at Central since 1998 and was promoted to associate professor in 2008. Her areas of interest include U.S. social and cultural history, women’s history, sports history, religious history and popular culture. She was also a contributor to Central’s first-year students’ Intersections curriculum and is currently teaching an introductory Civitas course in the new Engaged Citizenship core curriculum.
Witt earned her bachelor’s degree from Trinity College and completed her master’s degree and Ph.D. in history at Loyola University Chicago.
“Lori’s commitment to mentoring students, innovative teaching, academic excellence, experiential learning and interdisciplinary courses aligns with the purpose of the professorship,” says Mary E.M. Strey, Central’s vice president for academic affairs and the dean of faculty.
“Her leadership and community building gifts on the Central campus are recognized by colleagues who routinely appoint or elect her to serve on important committees that seek to address the curriculum, the heart of our work,” Strey says.
Witt and her students have been doing extensive research and writing the history of Central. As a past recipient of the Hutch Bearce Community-Building and Faculty Leadership Award, Witt was recognized for seeking to build community and interdisciplinary perspectives including her Stonewall riots presentation sponsored by Common Ground and her work with the Pella Historical Society. She has served as History Day District Coordinator for the Historic Highways District for over a decade and on the board of the State Historical Society of Iowa since 2017 where she sits on two subcommittees.