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History Department
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Faculty members at USNA are expected to be excellent teachers and scholars, while also demonstrating meaningful service to the institution and beyond. USNA is proud to recognize those faculty who distinguish themselves by going above and beyond our already high expectations. Included here are descriptions of our yard-wide awards along with the names of past award recipients.

Class of 1951 Civilian Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching

The Class of 1951 Civilian Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, given in honor of Professor Theodore J. Benac, is presented annually to the civilian faculty member at the Naval Academy who has exhibited continued excellence in teaching and sustained contributions to the intellectual development of midshipmen. The award consists of two plaques, one awarded to the individual and one placed on permanent display at the Naval Academy. Accompanying each award is a cash prize provided through an endowment by the USNA Class of 1951.

In 1998, this award was renamed in honor of Theodore J. Benac, an ebullient individual with an infectious laugh and a great love for mathematics and the midshipmen he taught. Dr. Benac received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale University in 1941 where he studied algebra under Oystein Ore. He taught at the Naval Academy from 1 July 1941 until his death on 9 November 1997, an incredible span of 56 years. Dr. Benac served as Mathematics Department Chairman from 1976 to 1982. In 1989, he was named the outstanding Teacher at the Naval Academy. The following year, Dr. Benac was named the outstanding Teacher in the state of Maryland. Dr. Benac served as Grand Marshall for the Academic Procession at all Naval Academy graduations from 1972 until 1997.

Each year, the recipient of this award demonstrated the abilities to inspire midshipmen to high levels of academic accomplishment and to improve the level of classroom instruction at the Naval Academy.

Faculty from the History Department have earned the award a total of five times, second only to the Chemistry Department's six wins:

  • Professor Phyllis Culham (2005)
  • Professor Nancy W. Ellenberger (2002)
  • Professor Larry V. Thompson (1997)
  • Professor Richard P. Abels (1991)
  • Professor Craig L. Symonds (1988)
Class of 1951 Civilian Faculty Award for Excellence in Research

The Civilian Faculty Award for Excellence in Research is presented annually to the civilian faculty member at the Naval Academy who has exhibited the highest quality continued scholarly achievement through research. The award consists of two plaques, one awarded to the individual and one placed on permanent display at the Naval Academy. Accompanying each award is a cash prize provided by the Endowment from USNA Class of 1951.

Each year since 1987, the recipient of this award produced significant results through original research and publication. The results of this research have furthered the accomplishments of the Naval Academy's mission by assisting the intellectual development of midshipmen and, additionally, have significantly increased the fund of knowledge in his or her field of scholarship.

The History Department is currently tied with Mechanical Engineering for second place in the number of award recipients at five apiece; only Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering are ahead with six awardees.

  • Professor Sharika Crawford (2022)
  • Professor Maochun Miles Yu (2009)
  • Professor Richard P. Abels (2003)
  • Professor Thomas E. Brennan (2001)
  • Professor Craig L. Symonds (1998)
Class of 1951 Military Faculty Teaching Excellence Award and William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education

The Clements Award has been bestowed annually since 1977 upon a military faculty member at the Naval Academy whose contributions to the academic, professional, and moral development of midshipmen reflect the highest principles of excellence in education. The award consists of a six-inch sterling silver medallion mounted in a wood and glass case. The medallion bears the likeness of Mr. William P. Clements, former Under Secretary of Defense, who had a special interest in improving the quality of education within the military services. The case also contains a metal Naval Academy Seal and a plate on which the recipient's name is inscribed. The name of each year's winner is also be inscribed on a large plaque permanently mounted in the lobby of the Nimitz Library. Accompanying each award is a cash prize provided through an endowment by the USNA Class of 1951.

Each year, the recipient of this award demonstrated the ability to inspire midshipmen to high levels of academic accomplishment, evidence of improvement of teaching materials and methods (such as development of new texts, courses, exercises, techniques of instruction or other classroom innovations, etc.), and involvement in the academic counseling of midshipmen.

Eight professors and instructors of History have earned this distinction, placing the department well ahead of other disciplines at the Academy!

  • CDR Benjamin F. Armstrong, USN (2019)
  • CDR Davin J. O'Hora, USN (2016)
  • CDR Thomas L. Robertson, USN (2009)
  • LCDR Scott F. Granger, USNR (2004)
  • LtCol Robert G. Baker, USMC (1996)
  • Maj David C. Fuquea, USMC (1995)
  • LCDR Thomas J. Cutler, USN (1989)
  • Maj M. L. Bartlett, USMC (1980)
Military Professor Teaching Excellence Award

This biennial award, first given in 2014, recognizes one military faculty member at the Naval Academy whose contributions to the academic, professional, and moral development of Midshipmen reflect the highest principles of excellence in education.

We are proud to be one of the few departments to have our faculty recognized for this award:

  • CAPT Jeff Macris, USN (2016)
Superintendent's Civilian Faculty Award for Excellence in Service

Beginning in 1995, the Civilian Faculty Award for Excellence in Service is presented annually to the civilian faculty member at the Naval Academy who has exhibited the highest degrees of continued service through involvement in administrative and Brigade-support activities which advance and enhance the mission of the Naval Academy. The award consists of two plaques, one awarded to the individual and one placed on permanent display at the Naval Academy. Accompanying each award is a cash prize provided by the USNA Alumni Association.

Each year, the recipient of this award enhanced the mission of the Naval Academy through extraordinary Yard-wide, divisional or departmental service.

The History Department proudly boasts having the highest number of faculty to have been recognized for this honor.

  • Professor Ernest S. Tucker (2019)
  • Professor Nancy Ellenberger (2014)
  • Professor David P. Peeler (2010)
  • Professor Richard P. Abels (2008)
  • Professor Mary A. DeCredico (2001)
  • Professor Philip W. Warken (1995)
Apgar Award for Excellence in Teaching

This award, established in 1996 by Mahlon Apgar, IV, and Anne Demarest Nelson Apgar, is intended to recognize, encourage and reward individual faculty members at the Naval Academy who have had a demonstrable impact on their students and/or who have made a significant contribution to the art of teaching and counseling students. Special emphasis is placed on instilling the values of character, responsibility and integrity of Naval and Marine Corps officers through their example and methods.

The Apgar Award recognizes military faculty who have taught at the Naval Academy for fewer than three years and untenured junior civilian faculty who are in tenure track positions and alternates annually between military and civilian recipients. The award consists of two plaques, one awarded to the individual and one placed on permanent display at the Naval Academy. Accompanying each award is a cash prize provided by Mr. and Mrs. Apgar.

Each year, the recipient of this award demonstrated:

  • Effectiveness in teaching the qualities of leadership, with special emphasis on character, responsibility and integrity, through the academic environment, curriculum and mentoring roles outside the classroom.
  • Performance in stimulating a love of learning and in motivating and enabling students to learn.
  • Contributions in developing and applying innovative methods of teaching to achieve these aims.
  • Commitment to develop and apply new teaching concepts and methods that expand students' horizons and their potential contributions as leaders and serving military officers.
  • Commitment to new teaching pedagogy and development of skills among teaching peers.

Three members History professors have earned the honor, placing the department in second place for total number of awardees.

  • LT John Kadz, USN (2015)
  • Assistant Professor Sharika Crawford (2014)
  • Captain Keith E. Gibeling, USAF (2005)
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