Jan. 12, 2022
Reading time: 3 minutes, 12 seconds

Thanks to the generous support of the local Casimir Pulaski Chapter of the Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution (GSSAR) and other community members and organizations, the John Ferling Scholarship in the University of West Georgia’s history program has been established as a fully endowed scholarship to support graduate history students with their research. 

Front row: Dr. Keith Pacholl, UWG professor of history; Ketty Cusick, UWG senior director of development; Dr. John Ferling, UWG professor emeritus of history; Dr. Mike Campbell '75 '77 '85, Casimir Pulaski-GSSAR secretary/treasurer. Back row: Sue Carlton; Edward Carlton; Lt. Cdr. Jimmy G. Swinson USN (Ret.) '70, Casimir Pulaski-GSSAR president;  George Wheeless '94 '97, Casimir Pulaski-GSSAR registrar
Front row: Dr. Keith Pacholl, UWG professor of history; Ketty Cusick, UWG senior director of development; Dr. John Ferling, UWG professor emeritus of history; Dr. Mike Campbell '75 '77 '85, Casimir Pulaski-GSSAR secretary/treasurer. Back row: Sue Carlton; Edward Carlton; Lt. Cdr. Jimmy G. Swinson USN (Ret.) '70, Casimir Pulaski-GSSAR president; George Wheeless '94 '97, Casimir Pulaski-GSSAR registrar

The scholarship is named for Dr. John Ferling, professor emeritus of history, who taught at UWG for more than 30 years and is considered one of the nation’s leading historians in the American Revolution. It will be presented annually to recognize scholarly activity excellence.

“The John Ferling Scholarship addresses a fundamental need for history graduate students,” said Dr. Keith Pacholl, professor of history. “Our students engage in exciting research that often requires access to sources beyond the university, so this scholarship will open up new doors and allow them to make meaningful contributions in the field.” 

Dr. Mike Campbell ‘75 ‘77 ‘85, UWG alum and secretary/treasurer of the GSSAR chapter, said the members have been wanting to officially honor the historian for years.

“John Ferling is one of the most knowledgeable persons on the American Colonial period and the American Revolution in our country,” Campbell said. “This endowed scholarship was not something we had to do but something we wanted to do to show our respect for him and to support the university.”

Violette Denney, chairperson of the Abraham Baldwin Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, said Ferling embodies her organization’s commitment to preserving American history. It is out of appreciation they made the initial gift that created the fund.

“He is exactly what we need – somebody to record our history accurately,” she said. “All the books he’s written make our history real.”

Before writing critically acclaimed books such as “Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation” and “Independence: The Struggle to Set America Free,” Ferling was himself a graduate student who benefited from a grant similar to the one that currently bears his name.

“I had my first taste of research while still in graduate school, thanks to a grant that my mentor, Elizabeth Cometti, secured for me from the Society of Colonial Dames,” Ferling recalled. “It led me to places I never imagined I would go – from the Library of Congress to the New York Public Library to the archives at Mount Vernon.”

Campbell – having multiple degrees in history and social studies from UWG –  witnessed firsthand the importance of giving back to the university.

“Being in a graduate program and attempting to do original research can be a daunting task, especially in the financial realm,” he said. “Recipients of the John Ferling Scholarship will be able to use these funds to support their research efforts and encourage them to support scholarships for generations.” 

Dr. John Ferling
Dr. John Ferling

Pacholl said he and the program remain grateful.

“We are incredibly thankful to the donors from our community who have made this scholarship a reality,” he shared. “This unique opportunity will help our students flourish in their careers.”

In addition to the scholarship, the John Ferling Distinguished Lecture Series in United States History is also launching in 2022. Both are representations of Ferling’s legacy at UWG and beyond. 

“I hope my students grew to love history more as a result of my courses and learned to think critically,” Ferling concluded. “I hope the books I’ve written will inspire readers not only to read more deeply in the American Revolution and Early American Republic but gain a better understanding of those eras. With a bit of luck, maybe they’ll rethink some of what they might previously have thought they knew about those periods and the men and women who lived in those times.”

For more information about how you can make an impact by supporting UWG through an endowment, scholarship or annual giving, please visit UWG’s Give West page.

photography by Julia Mothersole