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Best-selling author named associate director of UMW’s Great Lives lecture series
The University of Mary Washington today issued the following press release:
The University of Mary Washington today announced that Charles J. Shields has been named associate director of the university’s Great Lives public lecture series. Shields, a noted historian and author of The New York Times best-selling biography “Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee,” was an audience favorite when he spoke about Lee as part of the Great Lives series earlier this year.
In his role as associate director, Shields will work closely with Director William B. Crawley Jr., distinguished professor emeritus of history, to promote the lecture series, held annually during the spring semester, on a national level. “It’s a privilege to enhance the reputation of Mary Washington by bringing the Great Lives series the attention it deserves,” Shields said. “There is no other program quite like it in the United States. It already has established a national reputation within the community of biographers writing today, and my goal is to make the program visible to, and accessible by, a larger audience beyond the Fredericksburg region.”
Established in 2004, the Chappell Lecture Series, Great Lives: Biographical Approaches to History is endowed by a grant from John Chappell of Philadelphia, whose late wife Carmen Culpeper Chappell was a 1959 alumna of Mary Washington. Lecture topics have covered a wide array of historical figures both in terms of chronology and areas of accomplishment. Speakers have included UMW professors from various departments, as well as acclaimed scholars and writers from outside the university. Crawley has directed the lecture series since its inception.“Bill Crawley has done an outstanding job in creating and developing Great Lives to this point,” President Richard V. Hurley said. “We are indeed fortunate to acquire the services of Charles Shields. His broad range of skills as a biographer, teacher and administrator make him the ideal person to take the program to the next level.” Shields’ next book, “And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life,” will be released in November 2011. In addition to his writing, Shields serves as vice president of Biographers International Organization (BIO), an international organization that represents the interests of practicing biographers.