David Wrobel, David L. Boren Professor and Merrick Chair of Western American History at OU, is a historian of the American West and American thought and culture. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on the American West, modern American thought and culture, the Progressive Era, historical methods and the introductory course, U.S. History: 1865-Present. In 2016, he received the OU College of Arts and Sciences Holden Award for Teaching Excellence.
Wrobel joined the OU faculty in 2011. In 2014, he received the Western Heritage Award for his nonfiction book, Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire and Exceptionalism from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression. His latest book, America’s West: A History, 1890-1950, will be published in November 2017. Wrobel is also the author of Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory and the Creation of the American West and The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal. He is currently working on a new book project, “John Steinbeck’s America, 1930-1968: A Cultural History.” Wrobel also co-edits The Modern American West book series and is the author of numerous articles and essays.
Wrobel is widely known and respected for his community engagement and generous mentorship of teachers beyond the University. He has participated in and directed many teacher institutes sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, U.S. Department of Education, and National Council for History Education. He is a participant in the Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecture Program and in 2005-2006 was Senior Research Fellow in Western American History at the Beinecke Library and Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders at Yale University.
A former president of the American Historical Association’s Pacific Coast Branch and a member of the Western History Association Council, Wrobel also served as president of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society. He has received numerous research fellowships, including from the Huntington Library, California, Chicago’s Newberry Library, and the American Philosophical Society.
Wrobel was the inaugural recipient of the David L. Boren Professorship, one of the most prestigious honors at OU, created to recognize scholars whose excellence in teaching and research makes a positive difference in public affairs and civic life.
He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in American Intellectual History from Ohio University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history/philosophy from the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. Prior to coming to OU, Wrobel was department chair and professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.