David Wrobel, David L. Boren Professor and Merrick Chair of Western American History at OU, is a historian of the American West and American thought and culture. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on the West, modern American thought and culture, the Progressive Era, John Steinbeck and the introductory course U.S. History: 1865-Present. In 2015, he received the OU Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences Holden Award for Teaching Excellence.
Wrobel joined the OU faculty in 2011. His most recent book is America’s West: A History, 1890-1950 (2017). In 2014, he received the Western Heritage Award for his nonfiction book, Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire and Exceptionalism from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression. He is also the author of 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 project is “John Steinbeck’s Search for America.” Wrobel also co-edits The Modern American West book series and serves on the editorial board for the Steinbeck Review, and for Montana: The Magazine of Western History.
Wrobel is known for his community engagement and mentorship of teachers around the country. 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 and other groups. Wrobel serves as an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer and, in 2005-2006, was Senior Research Fellow in Western American History at Yale University. He is past president of the Western History Association, the American Historical Association’s Pacific Coast Branch, and of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society.
Wrobel has received numerous research fellowships, including from the Huntington Library, the Newberry Library and the American Philosophical Society. He 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 The 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 chair and professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.