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Diener Named the Inaugural Charles E. Hedrick Professor of History

Dr. Laura Michele Diener has been named the inaugural Charles. E. Hedrick Professor of History. She will serve a three-year term, beginning in the fall semester of 2024.

The Charles E. Hedrick Professorship in History was endowed by Charles and Mary Jo Hedrick in memory of Charles’s father, Dr. Charles E. Hedrick, who taught history at Marshall from 1918 to 1946 and was a long-serving chair of the department. Charles and Mary Jo Hedrick’s gift supports salary and other activities connected to the endowed professorship. Dr. Greta Rensenbrink, the Department of History’s current chair, calls this gift “monumental.”

“It will have a direct and lasting positive effect on the department and its students,” Rensenbrink said. “We are very grateful to the Hedrick family.”

Diener’s Hedrick Professorship will not only provide support for her research, but will also advance the public history, community and interdisciplinary goals and priorities of the department. The focus of Diener’s Hedrick Professorship will be a multifaceted project exploring the role of the Middle Ages in the modern world. The professorship includes full support for a graduate student, who will work with Diener in creating a book and accompanying website dedicated to Medieval Scandinavia. Diener will also coordinate series of interactive workshops open to Marshall students, high-school students, and other members of the community.

The workshops will be led by faculty from across the university and from other institutions of higher education. They will focus on skills such as paleography and historic textile production, as well as areas of study such as medieval art. Diener will also direct an annual symposium, bringing in Medieval scholars to lead seminars and offer a public presentation. In all these endeavors, Diener seeks to create immersive experiences that will help the larger community recognize the critical significance of the Middle Ages to our modern world.

“Medieval history is fascinating, but it is essential for understanding foundational aspects of modern society,” Diener said. “By studying this period, we can gain insights into the origins of political systems, social structures, and religious institutions. Exploring medieval history fosters an appreciation for cultural diversity, as it encompasses a wide range of civilizations and traditions. Moreover, it can stimulate an interest in historical research and analysis, which are valuable skills in many fields, including academia, law, and public policy.”

In addition to being named the Hedrick Professor of History, Diener recently received the Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award for 2023-2024.

For more information, contact Dr. Greta Rensenbrink, chair of the Department of History at

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