Skip Navigation

OU Names Wrobel Interim Dean of College of Arts and Sciences

Celebrated educator, historian and author has been named interim dean of the University of Oklahoma's College of Arts and Sciences.

NORMAN – A celebrated educator, historian and author has been named interim dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of Arts and Sciences, OU President David L. Boren announced today.

David Wrobel, David L. Boren Professor and Merrick Chair of Western American History at OU, is known for his scholarship on the history of the American West. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on the American West, modern American thought and culture, the Progressive Era, historical methods and the introductory history course U.S. Survey: 1865-Present. In 2015, he received the OU College of Arts and Sciences Holden Award for Teaching Excellence.

            “Dr. David Wrobel is a highly regarded teacher and scholar,” Boren said. “I am deeply grateful to him for his willingness to take on the important added responsibilities of serving as interim dean. The university is very fortunate to have such a well-qualified faculty member to serve in this capacity.”

Wrobel joined the OU faculty in 2011. In 2014, he received the prestigious Wrangler Award for his nonfiction book, Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire and Exceptionalism from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression. He has written two other books, Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory and the Creation of the American West and The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal. His current book projects include America’s West: A History, 1890-1950, which is scheduled for publication in January 2018; We Hold These Truths: American Ideas and Ideals, from the Pre-Colonial Era to the Present; and John Steinbeck’s America, 1930-1968: A Cultural History. Wrobel also co-edits The Modern American West book series and is the author of numerous articles and essays.

            Wrobel is widely known and respected for his community engagement and generous mentorship of teachers beyond the University. He has participated in and directed many teacher institutes sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, U.S. Department of Education, National Council for History Education, American Institute for History Education and the Mellon Foundation. Wrobel also is a participant in the Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecture Program and in 2005-2006 was Senior Research Fellow in Western American History and the Beinecke Library and Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders at Yale University. 

            A former president of the American Historical Association’s Pacific Coast Branch and a member of the Western History Association Council, Wrobel also served as president of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society. He has received many research fellowships, including the Huntington Library, California; the Newberry Library; and the American Philosophical Society. Wrobel was the inaugural recipient of the David L. Boren Professorship, one of the most prestigious honors at OU, created to recognize scholars whose excellence in teaching and research makes a positive difference in public affairs and civic life.

            He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in American Intellectual History from Ohio University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history/philosophy from the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. Prior to coming to OU, Wrobel was department chairman and professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

            His wife, Janet Ward, is a distinguished scholar and faculty member in the History Department at OU; they have three children, Davey, Ethan and Miranda.