May 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Retired History Professor Creates Scholarship for Outstanding History Seniors

By MaryKate McHugh
From Compass, April 12, 2013

Dr. Alfred Eckes Jr., Professor Emeritus of History and Eminent Research Professor of Contemporary History from 1990-2011, established an award for outstanding rising seniors majoring in history who display a high level of achievement at Ohio University.

Dr. Al Eckes

Dr. Al Eckes

Called the Eckes Prize in History, the $5,000 award will be given annually for 10 years and recognizes well-rounded students who have the highest overall grade point average in all courses taken at Ohio University.

“I wanted to establish an award for history majors who have a diverse preparation within their education at OHIO. The student chosen for this award must have demonstrated excellence in meeting general education and distribution requirements as well as in the History major,” Eckes said.

Prior to his teaching career at OHIO where he taught “Perspectives on Globalization”, Eckes served on the U.S. International Trade Commission from 1981-1990 and chaired the commission from 1982-1984. He also was an editorial-page editor for the Columbus Dispatch.

Dr. Patrick Barr-Melej, Chair of the History Department, said Eckes’s previous job experiences gave his students a unique perspective and his gift represents yet another way he showed his commitment to OHIO.

“His experience in those areas benefited our students greatly, given that many of our students go on to careers in government and journalism, among other fields,” Barr-Melej said. “The Eckes Prize in History is a very generous gift on our former colleague’s part, and it will most definitely help a top student cope with the rising cost of his or her education. The department is honored to have had Dr. Eckes in its ranks and, by way of the Eckes Prize, outstanding students will continue to benefit from his commitment to Ohio University.”

Eckes said he enjoyed teaching students from different majors because a variety of perspectives provide useful material for all students.

“During my career in government and journalism, I saw on a daily basis the value of having a strong preparation in history,” Eckes said. “A history major helps one to understand the past and to anticipate the future, thus enabling one to prepare better for life’s uncertainties.”

Eckes said his decision to establish the award came at the right time in his career

“I knew that I was in a stage in my life when one is able to make a gift. I felt it was the right thing to do, to pay it back to a university that held for me many enjoyable experiences.”

The Eckes Prize in History is part of OHIO’s The Promise Lives Campaign, which will raise $450 million by June, 2015 to support students, faculty, research and creative activity, community outreach and select facilities. To date, the Campaign has raised $419 million in support of these priorities. To make a gift to The Promise Lives Campaign, visit

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