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Historians gather for Starr-studded evening

April 11, 2011

It was all about history Saturday evening, as Chapman University capped off a student conference with an awards banquet and the presentation of an honorary doctorate to the distinguished historian Kevin O. Starr, Ph.D.

Chapman student Kirsten Moore and Albert D. Ybarra, a history graduate student from Cal State Fullerton, with historian Kevin Starr at Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society Conference hosted by Chapman.

Chapman’s history was particularly honored in Starr’s keynote speech at the banquet. In it Starr recalled the university’s 150-year history, from its rural beginnings in Northern California to the present, where it is interwoven with Orange County’s “growing badge of identity.”

“Synergistically, Chapman College – Chapman University as of 1991 — both expressed and paced the rise of Orange County in these years. Chapman College drew its energies from a rising Orange County, while at the same time served as a symbol of Orange County development,” Starr said.

Starr’s talk was a sweeping retrospective of the history of higher learning, from the libraries of the ancient world and the great European city universities to the land grant tradition of the United States and the small religious colleges that flowered in tandem with the western movement.

With its origins as an institution founded by Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) pioneers, Chapman was a hallmark of that western movement, Starr said. He added that it is a uniquely Californian institution, given its geographic path from the farming community of Woodland, outside Sacramento, to the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles and finally to Orange.

“In terms of its early development, no other college or university ever enjoyed a more representative California background,” Starr said.

The awards banquet was the concluding event to the day-long Southern California Regional Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society Conference hosted on Chapman’s campus and which included research paper presentations by history students from throughout the area. Chapman students capturing undergraduate awards were Kirsten Moore, first place, for her paper, “Medical Manipulations: Public Health as a Political Tool in the 1918-19 Influenza Epidemic in San Francisco,” and Chelsea Judy, third place, for her paper, “Unbroken Towards the Sea: The National Trust and the Rise of Coastal Preservation in Late 19th- and 20th- Century Britain.” Albert D. Ybarra, a history student from Cal State Fullerton, won first place in the graduate division for his paper, “From Byzantium to Byzantion: The Catalan Company in Anatolia.”

The event at Chapman was made possible by support from Trustee David Henley, the Office of the Chancellor, the Office of the Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students, the Office of Undergraduate Research, Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences, The Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education and the Department of History.

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