McDonough named Tom Elam Distinguished Professor of History

Dr. Daniel McDonough, the senior historian in the UT Martin Department of History and Philosophy and the Faculty Senate president, has been named the Tom Elam Distinguished Professor of History.

McDonough is the second member of the history faculty to ever hold this prestigious appointment. He succeeds Dr. Alice-Catherine Carls, who retired in June 2023.

“This is a great award,” McDonough said. “I think it’s the only named professorship we have in humanities and fine arts. There are a couple in (the College of Business and Global Affairs.

“It’s a nice award. I’m humbled and honored to have it.”

McDonough said he is working on two books about Boston during the American Revolution. One of the books is a biography of Sons of Liberty leader William Molineux, and the other is an account of Boston from the famed Boston Tea Party of 1773 through the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

This distinguished professorship is supported by the Col. Tom Elam Endowment in the Department of History and Philosophy and recognizes outstanding teaching, scholarship and service.

Elam received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Tennessee in 1931 and graduated from its College of Law in 1934. He served for 42 years on the UT Board of Trustees, from 1956 to 1998, and on the UT Athletics Board from 1951 to 1998.

A native of Union City, Elam retired as a colonel from the U.S. Army Reserves. A veteran of World War II, he was also an attorney, a businessman and a farmer.

The Tom Elam Endowment Fund was established in April 1984 in what was then the Department of History and Political Science, with the first distribution of funds coming in April 1985.

The donor agreement specifies two potential uses for the endowment: to fund an annual symposium on a topic in American history or to fund a distinguished professorship in the department.

The original distribution of Elam Endowment funds went to support an annual conference at UT Martin; the chosen topic was the American Civil War. For years, UTM held a Civil War conference, but with retirements, changes in leadership and new focuses in what is now the Department of History and Philosophy, the decision was made to redirect the fund’s distribution.

In 2001, the department initiated a new annual Civil Rights Conference, which became hugely successful. It was funded by sources from across campus, leaving the Elam Endowment largely untouched for several years.

In 2005, Chair of the Department of History and Philosophy Dr. David Coffey – with the support of Dr. Jerald Ogg, who was the dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts at that time and then-Provost Dr. Thomas Rakes – established the Tom Elam Distinguished Professor of History title.

This enhanced professorship, which provides a one-course release per semester or a $5,000 annual stipend, was announced in April 2005, the 20th anniversary of the fund’s initial distribution.

Coffey presented Dr. Alice-Catherine Carls as the first Tom Elam Distinguished Professor of History in 2005, and she held the title until her retirement in 2023. That summer, senior historian Dr. Daniel McDonough assumed the distinction.

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