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Jan. 29: Trotter Reappointed Head of the History Department


Jonathan Potts

Carnegie Mellon Reappoints Joe Trotter
Head of the History Department

PITTSBURGH—History Professor Joe Trotter has been appointed to a second five-year term as head of the Department of History in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (H&SS) at Carnegie Mellon University.     

Trotter, the Mellon Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon, has been on the university's faculty since 1985, and has been head of the History Department since 2001. During that time, the department housed the internationally renowned journal Social Science History and added six full-time faculty members. History faculty published 10 books, edited or co-edited 16 collections and scores of scholarly articles and essays during Trotter's first term as department head.     

Joe TrotterTrotter's research focuses on the urban experiences of African Americans, and in particular black labor and working class history. During the past five years, he has published a two-volume history of African Americans in the United States titled "The African American Experience," edited two books and two encyclopedias, and wrote 13 articles for professional publications. The University of Illinois Press published a second edition of his first book, "Black Milwaukee: The Making of an Industrial Proletariat, 1915–45," which expands the story of Milwaukee's black community from its antebellum beginnings to the late 20th century era of deindustrialization.

Since 1995, Trotter has been the director of the department's Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE). Under his direction, CAUSE launched a three-year oral history project on African Americans in the city of Pittsburgh since World War II, an undertaking that is emblematic of the History Department's commitment to community service as well as scholarship. CAUSE's annual lecture series has brought some of the nation's most respected scholars of the African American experience to Carnegie Mellon, and has greatly contributed to the History Department's undergraduate and graduate curriculum. Trotter has created two new undergraduate courses, one a mini-course on the history of African Americans in Pittsburgh and the other a semester-long course on African American urban history.    

"Joe Trotter has provided excellent leadership to the History Department over the last five years and has been a wonderful role model. During his first term as head, the department continued its high level of scholarly research and outstanding classroom teaching," H&SS Dean John Lehoczky said. "Joe has made important contributions to Carnegie Mellon through his leadership of CAUSE and its projects, and to the university's Humanities Initiative."     

Trotter earned a bachelor's degree in history from Carthage College in Wisconsin, and his master's and doctor's degrees from the University of Minnesota. Before pursuing his doctoral studies, he was a high school social studies teacher in Kenosha, Wisconsin.    

"While this is a moment of great personal satisfaction, I view my reappointment as fundamentally a triumph of the spirit of collaboration and cooperation within the History Department. Consequently, I am confident that we will make even greater contributions to knowledge, education and human service over the next five years," Trotter said.