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K-State Today

May 15, 2020

James Sherow, university distinguished professor of history, set to retire June 9

Submitted by Melissa Janulis

James Sherow, left, with Alex Hunt (right), Director of the Center for the American West in Canyon, TX. March 5th, 2020.

James Sherow, university distinguished professor of history, will retire June 9. A fourth-generation Kansan, Sherow is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on Kansas, North American Indians, the American West and environmental history.

Sherow has authored six books. His 2014 book, "Railroad Empire Across the Heartland," was named a Kansas Notable Book and received the 2015 Midwestern History Association's Hamlin Garland Prize for best book. His most recently published book, "The Chisholm Trail: Joseph McCoy's Great Gamble," 2018, explores the significance of the tiny waystation at Abilene, established by Joseph McCoy after the Civil War. This book won several prestigious awards in 2019 alone: Outstanding Western Book by West Texas A&M University's Center for the Study of American West; the Hal K. Rothman Prize for best environmental history of the American West by the Western History Association; Finalist for the Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize by the Center for Great Plains Studies, and took second-place winner of the Co-Founders "Best Book" Award given by the Westerners International.

Sherow additionally authored six book chapters and 17 refereed journal articles, has given scores of public presentations and conference papers, and was featured in several documentaries and television programs. His current book project is a study of Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City and its role in the formation of National Women's Clubs in the United States. He became interested in the topic while researching his Chisholm Trail book and expects to send the prospectus to an editor over the summer. Once a historian, always a historian.

Sherow exemplifies the scholar-citizen tradition of land-grant universities. In August 2012 he co-authored one of 10 essays in the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Portfolio. The essay firmly established Kansas State University's legacy as the first operational land-grant college in the nation. For the past eight years, he has served as managing editor of Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains, the journal of record for the state. In 2018-19, Sherow was elected president of the Kansas Association of Historians. He was elected twice to the Manhattan City Commission and was mayor from 2011 to 2012. While on the commission, Sherow played an instrumental role in the development and dedication of the Flint Hills Discovery Center, a $24 million public project celebrating the history and ecology of the tallgrass prairie.

Sherow has been awarded several grants and fellowships collectively in excess of $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution and others. Sherow taught Kansas history to undergraduates for 27 years, training a full generation of social studies teachers across the state. In 1995, he received the William L. Stamey Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. He served as major advisor for six doctoral graduates, who have distinguished themselves with scholarship awards, fellowships, books and full academic careers.

Before arriving at Kansas State University in 1992, Sherow was an assistant professor at Southwest Texas State University where he received the distinguished Presidential Seminar Award in 1991. He earned his doctorate in history from the University of Colorado in 1987. His dissertation, "Watering the Valley," received the Phi Alpha Theta/Westerners International award for best dissertation at the Western History Association's conference in 1987. After serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1970-74, he received his master's and bachelor's degrees from Wichita State University in 1978 and 1976 respectively. He was named a university distinguished professor in 2018.

In retirement, Sherow and his wife, Professor Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, will make their home on Vancouver Island, Canada.

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