Hess honored for lifetime achievement as U.S. foreign relations historian

Dr. Gary Hess, a Distinguished Research Professor of history, has received the Norman and Laura Graebner Award for lifetime achievement as a historian of U.S. foreign relations.

Dr. Gary Hess
Dr. Gary Hess

Hess is the 10th recipient of the award, which includes $2,000 in cash and is presented biennially to a senior historian of diplomatic or international affairs who has significantly contributed to the profession through scholarship, teaching and/or service.

The honor was announced recently at the annual meeting of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, of which Hess is a past president. Also past president of the Ohio Academy of History, he is a former editorial board member for the journal Diplomatic History and former chair of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation.

Hess is a nationally known authority on U.S. foreign relations, particularly in Southeast Asia. He is the author of six books and editor of another. His Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf, published in 2001, led to his service the following year as a consultant to the Central Intelligence Agency on long-range planning of U.S. foreign policy.

Another outgrowth of his expertise on U.S.-Asian relations has been his work as a consultant and lecturer in the officer-training program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.

The 2004 winner of the Graebner Award, Dr. Warren Cohen of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, nominated Hess for the honor. Hess’s reaction was “genuine humility,” he said, explaining, “this is the most prestigious award in my field; the previous recipients are among the very best scholars of American foreign relations over the last 40 years, and to be included in that group of historians marks the high point of my professional career.”

The Pittsburgh, Pa., native joined the BGSU faculty in 1964 and has held the rank of professor since 1972. He was named Distinguished Research Professor in 1988 in honor of his work on U.S. foreign policy and Asia. That same year, he received the Olscamp Research Award from the University, which subsequently presented him with its Distinguished Faculty Service Award (1997) and Lifetime Achievement Award (2000).

Also the recipient of three Fulbright awards and two National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, Hess was chair of the BGSU history department from 1973-81 and 1985-92, as well as acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences during the 1981-82 academic year.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, in 1959, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Virginia, in 1962 and 1965, respectively.

The Graebner Award was established by former students of Dr. Norman Graebner, a Professor Emeritus at Virginia. The noted historian had also taught at the University of Illinois and Iowa State and Stanford universities.

July 17, 2006