Citation for David McCullough

Presented by James F. Callahan Jr. ’65, trustee, for the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters

President Hansen, I am honored to present David McCullough.

When recent immigrants finish a citizenship preparation course at Lewiston’s Adult Learning Center, many will know more about the history of their adopted country than most Americans born here. In the current day we have lost a sense of our own past, what it can show us about the choices we make, and how it can inform our future. Today we honor a scholar whose works have done much to rekindle the interest of millions of Americans in the events that forged our national identity.

David McCullough is the celebrated author of many books that tell the American life story, from the turbulent first months of the Revolutionary War to the Truman era. His gifts as a raconteur bring to life the United States of the last three centuries. At home in the archives and attics, Mr. McCullough conducts years of research for each book he writes. Then, armed with this formidable knowledge, he conjures compelling narratives that transport the reader to another time and place. The strength of the story always undergirds his discussions of the ideas, the ethical questions and the decisions — small and large — which have shaped our shared destiny.

Mr. McCullough is also an eloquent defender of the notion that by understanding our history, recognizing our failures, and acknowledging our collective strengths, we cultivate engaged citizens and a just society.

For his attention to the craft of writing history, and for his insistence that an understanding of history is the right and responsibility of every person, I present David McCullough for the degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

President’s conferral:

David McCullough, you limn the past with both skill and artfulness, and your contributions to our understanding of American history and biography are worthy of our highest praise.

Therefore, by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities which here and everywhere pertain to this degree.