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News & Events
Dr. Phillip Hamilton Writes Comprehensive Book On CNU's 50-Year History
(Newport News, Va.) -Dr. Phillip Hamilton, associate professor of History at Christopher Newport University has authored Serving the Old Dominion: A History of Christopher Newport University, 1958–2011. The book will be published in September - the 50th anniversary month of CNU’s founding.
Serving the Old Dominion: A History of Christopher Newport University (Mercer University Press, 2011) tells the story of Virginia’s youngest state university during the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries. Opened in 1961 in Newport News as a commuter school with 170 students, the CNU of today is a highly selective residential college serving 5,000 students from across the state and is a vital part of life on the Virginia Peninsula. Placing the university’s development into the larger context of American higher education, Dr. Hamilton narrates CNU’s growth and evolution across five decades. In 1958, Hampton Roads leaders initiated discussions with state officials to create a commuter college on the Peninsula to serve both working adults and the “baby-boom” generation. Initially a two-year branch of the College of William and Mary, CNU quickly established a tradition of excellent teaching led by a dedicated faculty.
In the mid-1990s, changes in higher education (particularly the advent of online education) caused CNU to experience declining enrollments and budget cuts. Amid these difficulties, former U.S. Senator Paul Trible became the university’s fifth president. Under his leadership, the university dramatically changed direction. Building upon its reputation for exceptional teaching, Trible turned the school into a residential college and recruited highly talented students from throughout the Old Dominion. Initiation of a $500-million building campaign transformed both the campus and student life. Thus, by the end of the new millennium’s first decade, CNU was a thriving and important academic institution within Virginia.
Dr. Hamilton began the book project in 2005 at the request of President Trible. During his research, he interviewed four of CNU’s five presidents as well as many current and former faculty members. He also examined thousands of records contained in the University's archives in the Trible Library and the archived editions of The Captain's Log student newspaper (from the 1960s - 2010).
Dr. Hamilton is associate professor of History at Christopher Newport University and formerly chair of the History department. He specializes in the history of Virginia and the American Revolution, and is the author of The Making and Unmaking of a Revolutionary Family: The Tuckers of Virginia, 1752–1830 (University of Virginia Press, 2003) as well as articles published in The William and Mary Quarterly and Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.
He will discuss the book on Friday, September 16, at 4 p.m. in the Trible Library's Blechman Room. The event is free and open to the public.
A four-year public university in Newport News, Virginia, Christopher Newport University enrolls 5,000 students in rigorous academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences through the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences, including the Luter School of Business. CNU offers great teaching and small class sizes with an emphasis on leadership, civic engagement and honor.
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