McCurdy Fellowship to Foster Legal History Scholarship with Paid Residency at UVA Law

Charles W. McCurdy has directed or advised more than 200 doctoral dissertations, master's theses and undergraduate theses. He will retire from UVA in the spring, but his legacy will continue in the form of a new legal history fellowship.

August 18, 2014

A new fellowship at the University of Virginia will provide $32,000, a "dream mentor" and residency at UVA Law next year to a doctoral candidate working on a promising legal history dissertation.

The Charles W. McCurdy Legal History Fellowship will be offered starting in the fall of 2015 by the Miller Center in collaboration with the School of Law and the Department of History. UVA will join a short list of select schools, including Harvard and New York University, that offer a legal history fellowship, and the stipend will allow the chosen scholar to focus primarily on the research and writing of the dissertation during the residency year. The fellow also will be paired with a senior scholar whose work tracks closely with the student's own.

"Fellows get a 'dream mentor' that the program provides them from anywhere in the world," said Risa Goluboff, faculty adviser to the Program on Legal and Constitutional History and a Miller Center faculty associate. "You say it, and we try to set it up for you."

The mentor will give advice on the dissertation and, along with Miller Center faculty, help the scholar find avenues to publish and present to a wider audience.

Brian Balogh, who founded and chairs the Miller Center National Fellowship Program, said that the McCurdy Fellow will join nine other Miller Center fellows "chosen from the leading Ph.D. programs in the world." The McCurdy Fellow will benefit form a network of 135 former Miller Center fellows who are tenured at leading universities, or who serve as high-level public officials, he said.

As a responsibility of the fellowship, the scholar will help coordinate the Legal History Workshop at UVA Law, which meets during the school year as a way for scholars to receive feedback on their work. The fellow will have the opportunity to present at the workshop as well.

The fellowship is named after Charles McCurdy, a UVA professor of history and law who has directed or advised more than 200 doctoral dissertations, master's theses and undergraduate theses during his 40-year career. His own scholarship explores the sources and effects of legal change in the United States. His book, "The Anti-Rent Era in New York Law and Politics, 1839-1865," won the 2003 Order of the Coif Triennial Book Award.

McCurdy said he is touched to have the fellowship named after him.

"It's an extraordinary honor," McCurdy said. "It was my life's work, and now it will be carried on in my name."

Since 2000, the Miller Center program has helped launch the careers of more than 134 scholars whose dissertations employ history to shed light on American politics, public policy, foreign relations, science and technology policy, the impact of global affairs on the United States, and media and politics.

G. Edward White, a senior legal history scholar at the Law School who worked with Goluboff to help secure the fellowship through the Miller Center, said the residential opportunity strengthens bonds with the center and is an important addition to existing programmatic offerings.

"The fellowship simultaneously honors Chuck McCurdy, formalizes a connection between the Law School and the Miller Center in strengthening Virginia's commitment to legal and constitutional history in the future, and provides a mechanism whereby talented junior scholars can join the resident community of students and faculty interested in pursuing scholarship in the fields," White said.

The Miller Center will accept applications for the inaugural McCurdy Fellowship starting in November, with an application deadline of Feb. 2, 2015. Applicants must have completed course work toward a Ph.D. in history. Strong preference will be given to applicants who hold a J.D. and who will complete their dissertation by the end of the fellowship year.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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