Jeffrey R. Watt, the Kelly Gene Cook Sr. Professor of History was named as a Distinguished Professor on Friday (May 12) during the 2023 spring faculty meeting in Fulton Chapel
MAY 12, 2023 BY
Watt came to UM in 1988 after receiving his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Promoted to professor in 2005, he has held the Cook title since 2015.
He said the Distinguished Professor recognition is the greatest he has received during his 35 years at the university.
“Both personally and professionally, I find it quite gratifying to receive this recognition, though it is also a bit humbling since I know that there have been so many outstanding professors at this university – rightly esteemed for both their teaching and their scholarship – who definitely deserved this distinction but never received it,” he said.
Having authored four books and edited a dozen more, Watt is recognized as one of the preeminent scholars of the Reformation. One of the most prolific researchers and scholars in his field, he has published more than 40 peer-reviewed articles and 70 book reviews and made 50 scholarly presentations at academic conferences.
In 2021-22, Watt received more than $375,000 in grants from Swiss foundations to complete the decadeslong project he has led to publish scholarly editions of the records of the Consistory of Geneva, a morals court created by Protestant reformer John Calvin.
“Even as Jeff has reached the pinnacle of his field, his intellectual energy and innovation continue unabated as he finalizes his fifth monograph in addition to the Consistory project work,” said Noell Wilson, chair of the Department of History. “This award acknowledges Jeff’s prominent profile on the international history stage, and the UM history department is thrilled that the selection committee recognized this global stature.”
Besides the Reformation, Watt teaches courses on the history of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, women and the family, and witchcraft. In 2019, he received the College of Liberal Arts’ Award for Achievement in Research and Scholarship in the Humanities; in 2007, he won the Mississippi Humanities Council’s Teacher of the Year; and in 1991, he received the College of Liberal Arts’ Cora Lee Graham Award for the Outstanding Teaching of First-Year Students.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Watt embodies what we in the College of Liberal Arts have determined to merit this award,” said Lee Cohen, UM liberal arts dean. “He is considered to be one of the top early modern historians currently working in the field worldwide.”
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